Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse in Your Teen
Prescription drugs are sometimes necessary, even for your teen. Certain medications, however, can be abused, and if your teen is taking any of them, you need to be aware of the possibility. Pain medications, ADHD drugs, sedatives and others are subject to abuse and many are habit forming. If your teen overuses his prescription, he runs the risk of having serious side effects, of having an overdose and of becoming addicted. Understand the risks and make sure your teen understands responsible prescription drug use.
Give Your Kid the Facts
Teens tend to abuse prescription medications without realizing that doing so can be incredibly dangerous. Many teens (and adults are not necessarily exempt from this) assume that because it came from a doctor, a medication is safe. Learn and then pass on the facts about prescription drug abuse to educate your child and empower him to make better choices. If your teen has been prescribed a certain drug, read up on its side effects and the risks associated with abusing it. It’s also important to have a conversation about what constitutes abuse.
Which Drugs Can Be Abused?
According to national statistics, the most commonly abused prescriptions are narcotic painkillers, tranquilizers/sedatives and stimulants. Abused painkillers are opioids and are prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Sedatives are usually prescribed for anxiety disorders, and stimulants are most often given to treat ADHD. Make sure you know which prescriptions are in your house and whether any of them fall into these categories.
Where Do Teens Get Prescriptions?
Most adolescents who abuse prescription drugs get them from a friend or family member. The greatest risk factor for abuse in your family is having drugs in your home. Keep any sedatives, painkillers and stimulants locked away when they aren’t being used. The next most common method of getting a drug to abuse is through a prescription from a doctor. To a lesser degree, teens buy or steal prescriptions from someone else, usually at school, although online pharmacies are another source.
Understand the Motivation
Why do teens abuse prescriptions? They use prescription drugs more than street drugs because they are easy to access and teens assume these medications are safer. But why abuse any drug at all? There are a number of reasons, but peer pressure can be a strong motivating factor. If you can talk to your teen about peer pressure and how to say no, you can help him make better choices in those difficult moments when fitting in seems so important.
Teens also face a lot of pressure to succeed. Adderall, a stimulant that treats ADHD, is the most commonly abused prescription among teens. They often use it as a study aid because the effect of the drug is to increase the ability to focus, concentrate and stay awake. Another reason a teen may abuse a drug is to self-medicate. Drug abuse and mental illness often occur together, and if your teen has an untreated condition, he may reach for drugs to get relief.
Prescription drug abuse is a real problem in the general population, but it is also significant among teenagers. As the parent of a teen, you have the ability to influence your child’s choices about drug abuse. While teens fail to realize just how dangerous it can be to abuse prescriptions, parents are guilty of this ignorance, too. Don’t ignore this issue. Talk to your teen. Find out what is going on in his life. Keep prescriptions out of reach. When you take these steps, you can prevent your teen from becoming a statistic.
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