Preventing Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

Preventing Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

In honor of this month’s National Red Ribbon Week Campaign (October 23-31), now the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation reaching millions of young people each year, we are devoting this column to bring awareness to the growing trends of prescription and over-the-counter drug use among teenagers and what parents, grandparents and friends can do about it.

Understanding the Problem

  • Teens ages 12-17 abuse prescription drugs more than any illicit drug except marijuana – more than cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined.
  • The majority of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them easily and for free, primarily from friends and relatives.
  • Teens are abusing over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold remedies to get high.
  • Teens are abusing prescription drugs because many believe the myth that these drugs provide a “safe” high and they are easily available.
  • There has been a dramatic increase in the number of poisonings and even deaths associated with the abuse of prescription and OTC drugs.
  • The prescription drugs most commonly abused by teens are painkillers, prescribed to treat pain; depressants, such as sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs; and stimulants, mainly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Some teens use prescription and OTC drugs with alcohol or other drugs, which could lead to dangerous drug interactions and other serious medical consequences.

What Can You Do About It?

  • Safeguard all drugs at home. Monitor quantities and control access.
  • Set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider’s advice and dosages.
  • Be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medicines.
  • Properly conceal and dispose of old or unneeded medicines in the trash.
  • Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well.
  • Watch for the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse

Office of National Drug Control Policy

Oct 01, 2010 | Blog

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