Teens: From the Illicit to Prescription Drugs

Teens: From the Illicit to Prescription Drugs

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    It’s not just illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin parents should be talking about with their teens: they need to address the misuse of prescription drugs as well.  According the the Partnership at Drugfree.org, “as many as 1 in 5 teens say they have taken a prescription drug without having a prescription for it.” The behavior also “cuts across geographic, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic boundaries,” making this a cross-cultural issue.
    Some factors for the increased use of prescription drugs range from the obvious desire to party or get high, as well as the impetus to manage and regulate their lives and increasingly busy schedules. More and more, kids are using drugs like Adderall and Ritalin for additional energy and focus during test-taking and studying, or pain relievers like OxyContin and anti-anxiety meds like Xanax to cope with their academic, social, or emotional stress. A lot of the time, these drugs are being used sans a prescription and are often garnered from friends’ medicine cabinets, or lo and behold, your very own.
    The risks are many and include immediate as well as long-term risks. One has the short-term risk of overdosing, which can ultimately be fatal. Mixing various prescriptions with each other and/or with alcohol can also lead to fatalities. Long-terms effects include addiction and an unnecessary reliance upon chemical substances for the management of one’s day-to-day lives. Relying upon prescriptions to “manage” your life essentially disallows learning and developing actual one’s coping skills.
    Statistics show that kids who learn early on about the risks of drug use, etc., are up to 50% less likely to use drugs. So, it’s up to us as parents to provide that knowledge, which means we must educate ourselves first.  Take into consideration that your child may be under too much stress. The bevy of after-school activities and increased pressure to strive for an Ivy League school may end up being the catalyst for negative behavior, not the solution. Encourage your kids to embrace their childhood, it only happens once!     

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