According to The Foundation for a Drug-free World, 90 percent of prescription drug addicts start using prescription drugs in middle school or high school. Every day, around 6,600 people misuse prescription drugs for the first time, and one-third of those people are between the ages of 12 and 17. Not only are these drugs sometimes easier to get their hands on than street drugs, but many young people have the misconception that since they were prescribed by a doctor, they must be safe. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true.
There are many reasons why a teenager might decide to try drugs. They could be trying to fit in, succumbing to peer pressure, rebelling against their parents, dealing with stress from school, or attempting to self-medicate feelings of depression or anxiety. Perhaps they’re being bullied and looking for an escape, or looking for drugs that will improve scholastic or athletic performance. Some of the most common prescription drugs abused by kids are:
- Stimulants such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Adderall that are prescribed for ADHD and asthma. Some teenagers might actually have a prescription for one of these medications but use it improperly. Others get it from friends with prescriptions. These medications can cause a feeling of euphoria, and they are also frequently used by students trying to stay awake longer or focus better in order to well in school.
- Painkillers, such as OxyContin, Codeine, and Vicodin that are prescribed for temporary or chronic pain. It’s easy enough for a teenager to sneak a few pills out of his parents’ medicine cabinet, and even if they are legitimately trying to treat pain, after just five days of prescription opioid use the chances of developing long-term dependence on these drugs increases greatly.
- Depressants, such as Soma, Xanax, and Valium, that are prescribed for anxiety, seizures, and sleeping disorders. Like stimulants, some people have prescriptions for these medications but do not adhere to the dosing instructions. They are sometimes taken in order to relax or get to sleep, and they are often used at the same time as stimulants in order to counteract some of the effects.
It can be hard to distinguish between normal teenage hormones and angst and signs of addiction. Some signs that your teenager might be abusing prescription medications include severe mood swings, serious changes to sleep habits (such as extremely deep sleep or shallow breathing), weight loss, memory problems, slurred speech, manic episodes, extreme anxiety, panic attacks, changes in friend groups, self-harm (anything from cutting and scratching to hair pulling), and loss of interest in activities (such as suddenly quitting a sport or dropping out of a club). Also keep in mind that kids with a family history of drug or alcohol abuse are at an increased risk for developing an addiction of their own.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.