The findings of two national surveys published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (released in May, 2012) show that currently in the United States, a shocking 1 in 8 teenagers has used a powerful painkiller drug without a prescription. According to this new research, misuse of pills is starting around the ages of 16 and 17—earlier than was previously assumed. A survey of teens shows that about 1 in 30 or 40 took their first pain pill (non-medical use) at age 16.
The surveys done on teens asked them questions on their entire lifetime use of prescription drugs, including highly addictive drugs like Oxy Contin and codeine.
The medical and recreational use of opiod drugs (such as oxycontin) have both increased across the US over the past 20 years. Coincidentally, so have deaths related to pharmaceutical painkiller overdoses. This new research suggests that educational anti-drug programs specifically on the dangers of prescription drug abuse should begin in the early years of high school.
The full study is available for viewing here.
The Prescription Drug Abuse Problem Amongst Teens
The Disease Control and Prevention Centers estimate that over 14,000 people died in America of an opioid overdose in 2008. This number is three times higher than the number of such deaths in the two previous decades. Non-medical use of “controlled” medications has nearly surpassed all illegal street drugs, save for marijuana. The trend is highly disturbing and due, in part, to doctors prescribing powerful prescription painkillers to teens for sports injuries (knee or back injuries). Many of these drugs end up sold, traded and abused. The solution would not be to prevent those cases who sincerely need the prescription from having them, as many of the youth are using the medications as they were prescribed to them. However, the fact still remains that majority of medication abuse cases begin with a legitimate prescription.
Teens, like adults, are using these prescriptions to get high or simply to relieve pain without the supervision of a doctor. These same teens are more likely to smoke cigarettes or marijuana or to drink heavily (as compared to teens who had only taken these pills under medical supervision or not at all.) Youth obtain these drugs from their friends or steal them from family members, or are prescribed them by a doctor and then abuse the leftover pills to get high.
Pharmaceutical pain pill abuse is something we, for many years, have thought of as being an issue amongst older adolescents/young adults. These findings, however, show that the issue has spread to our younger generations and high school students. Researchers suggest parents and all medication users be especially responsible and careful with the storage and disposal of prescribed pain medications. If your child is prescribed a pain medication, take the time to ensure they are educated and warned of the potential risks of these pharmaceuticals. Parents should dispense the pills and store these medications themselves to prevent a worsening of this epidemic.
Solutions Through Narconon Drug Rehabilitation
Narconon drug rehabilitation, a long term, residential prescription drug treatment program with a 76% success rate has some tips for parents regarding a potential problem with teens regarding prescriptions.
The facility wants to remind parents to never let a prescription problem go in a teen and once they know that the teen is mis-using or abusing prescriptions, to get them immediate help. In addition Narconon drug rehabilitation reminds parents to properly dispose of their unused prescriptions and to not leave these drugs lying around the home for teens to take and abuse.
For more information on helping someone with a prescription problem through Narconon drug rehabilitation contact us today.