Prescription drugs are controlled substances prescribed for a variety of physical and mental ailments. However, when used outside of the context of medically supervised treatment, some prescription drugs also present a danger of addiction.

Because these drugs are often used in the treatment of mental disorders, and because they often offer a mental reprieve from uncomfortable thoughts and symptoms, teens with mental disorders are at a greater risk of developing an addiction to these drugs, and subsequently relying on them to “cope” with their symptoms. Despite being medication, much like alcohol use, heroin, or cocaine, these drugs can and do cause severe mental and physical consequences when abused, ultimately including death.

At Visions Treatment Centers, we help teens with mental disorders who have developed an addiction to prescription medications by providing them with a safe space to address their addiction and mental health concurrently.

Types of Addictive Prescription Medication

While there are other stimulants and sedatives, many of them have either been taken out of circulation or are very rarely prescribed, including methamphetamine and barbiturates. Amphetamines can be safe to use for teens on a case by case basis and with specific behavioral disorders, but when used recreationally (or for performance), they can cause addiction. Benzodiazepines are a close second, and rarely dangerous on their own – but their sedative effects stack with other depressive drugs like alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal can be deadly if unsupervised.

Opioids make up most cases of prescription medication addiction, as well as prescription drug overdoses. Most addictive prescription medication falls between three broad categories – stimulants, sedatives, and opioids. Most prescription drugs like antibiotics and antidepressants are not addictive, but their sale and distribution are controlled for other reasons. Common and addictive prescription medications include:

  • Stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin)
  • Sedatives like benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium)
  • Opioids like hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) and morphine, used in the treatment and management of chronic pain

Signs and Symptoms of Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

Different drugs lead to different symptoms. Some of these symptoms may be linked to a teen’s underlying condition. In cases of dual diagnosis, where addiction exists co-dependently with a mental disorder, symptoms of certain mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and/or behavioral problems are particularly magnified. Signs and symptoms of teen prescription drug abuse includes (but is not limited to):

  • Denying drug abuse
  • Trying and failing to quit
  • Struggling at home and school due to continued prescription drug use
  • Heightened symptoms of anxiety, depression, or behavioral problems
  • Paranoia about drug use and strange, sudden shifts in mood and behavior
  • Frequent nausea, confusion, slurred speech, and dizziness
  • Sleep and memory problems
  • Increased pain sensitivity (hyperalgesia)

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Teen Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment and Dual Diagnosis

At Visions Treatment Centers, teen prescription drug abuse treatment begins with a thorough assessment of a teen’s circumstances. Teen prescription drug abuse treatment can be complex, especially when a teen’s addiction is linked to the medication they were prescribed for their condition. Some cases of addiction benefit from agonist medication, and other medications may be considered depending on a teen’s mental health.

Our teen prescription drug abuse treatment assessment involves a physical and mental check-up, making use of a variety of diagnostic methods to determine relevant risk factors when devising a treatment plan. Our teen prescription drug abuse treatment program includes (but is not limited to):

Inpatient/Residential Treatment

At our residential facilities, treatments include medically supervised withdrawal and maintenance medication, psychiatric treatment via a variety of effective talk therapy methods (based on a teen’s health and circumstances), and several forms of experiential therapy to help teens learn new coping mechanisms, identify and deal with behavioral issues, and develop the toolkit to combat their symptoms.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

We offer outpatient care when inpatient care is not an option or not clinically indicated. Our intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization program is aimed at helping individuals with a dual diagnosis find the structure they need to achieve long-term progress against their symptoms. Treatments focus on regularly scheduled individual and group therapy.

Drug abuse can leave a lasting impact on the developing mind of a teen. When it occurs alongside a mental disorder, it can be doubly difficult to find lasting relief from symptoms and cravings. A long-term approach is needed, which is why we at Visions focus on providing the best start for a long-term recovery plan, assisting teens and their families by walking them through the steps of seeking continuing care, and creating a support system to minimize and prevent relapse.