Prescription Drugs and Teens: Why Do They Do It?


In a previous post, we shared the existence of a guide regarding teenagers and prescription drug abuse, provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). One of the things discussed in the document is how teenagers abuse prescription drugs, and why they turn to it.

teen prescription drug abuseData from a 2007 study called Monitoring the Future revealed that seven out of 11 drugs that were used by 12th graders to get high were medicines. Among them are cough medicines, inhalants, sedatives and tranquilizers.

In another report from 2007 entitled “Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities,” given by the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, it was shown that the proportion of college students who abused prescription drugs increased between 1993 and 2005. The percentage of increase was rather significant: 450 percent for tranquilizers such as Xanax and Valium; 343 percent for opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin; 225 percent for sedatives such as Nembutal and Seconal; and 93 percent for stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall.

Experts who weighed in on the reasons for prescription drug abuse among teenagers shared several insights. Teenagers reportedly turn to prescription drug abuse as a means of escape, or simply because they felt that they had nothing better to do. They may also turn to abuse of medicines as they try to achieve that “ideal” physical appearance.

There are several reasons that are disheartening, however, not the least of which is the fact that some students abuse drugs in order to be more competitive in school, and in order to handle the pressure of combining school work and extra-curricular activities.

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