Prescription medicine misuse and abuse is on the rise. According to the CDC, overdoses of prescription medications have more then tripled in the last twenty years. The problem reaches further then just overdosing, for every death, there are 10 treatment admissions, 32 emergency room visits, 130 people dependent on prescription medications an over 825 people who take prescription medications for non medical reasons. Teenagers in particular are abusing and misusing these medications even more frequently. According to a study done by Metlife and the partnership at Drugfree.org, 1 in 4 teenagers have admitted to having used or misused prescription drugs not prescribed to them. This is a 33 % increase over the last 5 years.
Teenagers are misusing and abusing prescription drugs for many different reasons. They may feel that using prescription drugs to get high is safer then using street drugs to get high. Parents may have a relaxed attitude about legal medications, which gives teenagers the false idea that it is acceptable to use these medications not prescribed to them to treat an illness or sports injury. It is also reported that parents do not keep their medications locked and secured, thus making it easy for teenagers to get the drugs that are not prescribed for them. 56 % of teenagers interviewed by Drugfree.org said that they could easily get into their parents medications.
Medications abused by teenagers include stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall. Teens who are not diagnosed with ADHD are taking these stimulants to use as a study aid; this is sometimes even encouraged by their parents. Narcotics such as OxyContin and Vicodin are used to get high, often being mixed with alcohol or other prescription drugs which is a dangerous combination. Teens are also using depressants such as Valium and Xanax to enhance their high. They take these medications in much higher doses then they would ever be prescribed. Parents need to take action and educate themselves and teens on the dangers of prescription medicines, and begin using safe measures to ensure that their medications are locked and secured out of reach of teenagers who may be tempted to try these medications recreationally.