The Teen (Prescription) Drug Problem

While it is not talked about as much as other drug problems, teen prescription drug abuse is a significant problem in the United States.

Parents worry. We just do, but there are a few times that cause us to worry more than normal. High on that list – teenage parties. Even though we trust your teen to make the right choices, we may still question, “What if there is alcohol at the party?” or “Will they make the right decision if someone offers them marijuana?” This image is replayed throughout popular culture in movies, TV shows, and PSAs.

It is only fair to worry about the dangers of drug addiction affecting your teenager. However, have you ever questioned the drugs you are harboring in your own home? While it is not talked about as much as other drug problems, teen usage of prescription drugs is a problem in the United States and one that parents should understand clearly.

Facts about Teen Prescription Drug Abuse:

  • Nearly 70% of teens say that home medicine cabinets are their source of drugs.
  • Teens are sometimes given prescription drugs by a friend or a relative.
  • 23% of teens claim that their parents do not care as much if they are caught using a prescription drug versus a ‘street drug’.
  • Almost 50% of teens believe that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs.
  • After marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused substances by Americans age 14 and older.
  • Every day in the United States 2,500 youth (age 12 to 17) abuse prescription pain reliever for the first time.

The Most Abused Prescription Drugs:

Opioids – These can cause sleepiness, stomach sickness, or constipation and include:

  • Vicodin
  • OxyContin
  • Codeine

Depressants – These can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, disorientation, and sleepiness. The top drugs to be abused in this category include:

  • Valium
  • Xanax

Stimulants – These can cause feelings of paranoia, fast heartbeat, and dangerous rises in body temperature. They are often used to “aid” study or help with alertness. Drugs of choice in this category include:

  • Adderall
  • Ritalin

What Can You Do to Help Your Teen Avoid a Prescription Drug Problem?

  • Be educated and aware of the problem
  • Keep medications in a safe place
  • Throw away old or expired medication
  • Spread the word
  • Be aware of their online activity
  • Spend time and talk with your teen

Teens are most likely to start utilizing prescription drugs as a form of self-medication without understanding the risks of abuse. It is important to create an open and safe space for your teen to talk about their problems while also educating them about the dangers of all types of addiction.

If you think your teen may be abusing any kind of drug, stop just worrying about it and get involved.

Published on: June 05, 2017
About the Author
Photo of Tyler Jacobson
Tyler Jacobson is a writer with HelpYourTeenNow. Tyler has researched and written on education problems, a variety of disorders, the world of social media, addiction, and pressing issues about raising teens today. Follow Tyler on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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Ritalin is a stimulant drug which influences chemicals in the brain and nerves responsible for hyperactivity and impulse control.