Teens are abusing prescription drugs more than ever. Drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin can easily lead to cheaper and easier to obtain heroin when withdrawal symptoms make the teen’s life unbearable. There is a new program to help role models or “influencers” start the dialogue with teens who are at risk to become addicted to pursuing “better living through chemistry.”
According to a national survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the good news regarding teen drug use is that from 2002 to 2008, there has been a decline in the use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. The bad news is that they are starting to abuse prescription drugs, such as painkillers and anti-anxiety medication. Except for marijuana, prescription drugs are abused by teenagers more than any other illicit drug. It is a previously overlooked problem that is starting to become a growing concern.
Every teen is at risk. Unlike other drugs, these can be normally found in the medicine cabinets of most homes. Also unlike other drugs, teens are not using these just to get a good kick, feel good, get high, or have a good time. They are using these prescription drugs in the hopes of achieving better living through chemistry. It could be the student who takes something in order to concentrate all night and cram for a test or the stressed-out one who wants to lower anxiety to give a speech in a few hours or the star quarterback who wants the edge physically over his competition for a scholarship to a prestigious college football program.
According to a study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, pressure and stress are two of the reasons cited most often by teens for taking prescription drugs. In the same study, 1 in 3 teens report knowing someone who has abused prescription drugs. Similarly, 1 in 3 see “nothing wrong” when using them “once in awhile”. 8 of out 10 teens in the survey obtained prescription drugs from someone they knew, either by simply asking for them, stealing them, or buying them.
According to the SAMHSA’s survey that was previously mentioned, 10% (or 2.8 million) of teens have abused prescription drugs in their lifetime. 2,700 teenagers abuse a prescription drug for the first time each day.
A program has finally been initiated to address these startling statistics and help prevent teenage prescription drug abuse. Through the collaborative efforts of The National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), SAMHSA, and representatives from 15 nationally recognized prevention, health professional and child advocacy organizations, the campaign Maximizing Your Role as a Teen Influencer: What You Can Do to Help Prevent Teen Prescription Drug Abuse is being launched. It is a comprehensive online resource designed with teenage influencers in mind, be it parents, coaches, teachers, or community providers. They will be able to take online modules that will give them the education necessary to form strategies that will prevent and curb teenage prescription drug abuse. Everything that is needed to be known about teenage prescription drug abuse can be found, including workshop materials and instructions, real-life scenarios, warning signs and symptoms, myths, brochures, and sample promotional materials.
Click here to read more about treatment for prescription drug abuse.