Prescription Drug Abuse in Teenagers

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Prescription Drug Abuse in Teenagers
Christina King
COM 220
May 19, 2010
Rosario Rivera-Reyes

Although prescription drugs are not harmful if used correctly, prescription drug abuse is high in teenagers. Most parents would never think their teenagers are helping themselves to prescription medicine sitting on ones counter. The truth is, prescription drug abuse in teenagers has become very common nowadays. The drugs are easily accessible at home, or cheap to buy at school. They are highly addictive and can even cause death. Putting one’s prescriptions in a safe place may save a childs life.

Prescription drug addiction usually starts with experimentation. Teenagers may be trying prescription drugs because their friends are doing it or it may just be out of curiosity. Some teenagers will turn to prescription drugs to forget their problems. As the addiction progresses, it becomes harder and harder to stop using the prescription drugs (Smith, 2010). Experimentation rarely leads to a good outcome. If one’s child starts with a simple experiment of prescription drug use, odds are it will ultimately end with addiction.

Smith (2010), states “Addiction is a complex disorder characterized by compulsive drug use. People who are addicted feel an overwhelming, uncontrollable need for drugs” (Drug abuse and addiction, para.1). When one has repeated drug use it will permanently alter the brain. The long-lasting effect on the brain changes ones ability to think, use good judgment, control ones behavior, or feel normal without the drug. It is the drug cravings and compulsions to use that make the addiction so powerful. These cravings and compulsions to use are partly cause by the changes the drugs make to one’s brain (Smith, 2010).

The average prescription drug abuser will start between the ages of 12 and 17. Every day about 2,500 teenagers in this age group abuse a prescription drug for the first time (Havens, 2009). “The number of high school students who are abusing prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone (OxyCotin), a potent and highly addictive opiate, or sedative is on the rise” (Freedman, (2006), para. 3). Stimulants are the most common used, next is opiates, followed by tranquilizers, and then sedatives (Parenting Teens, 2005).

The pain relievers such as Vicoden or OxyCotin are used to achieve a high, whereas the sedatives such as Xanax and Valium are used to relax or calm. These drugs can lead to dependence and addiction. Stimulants such as Adderall, Ritalin, Dexedrine, or Provigil decrease ones appetite but increases ones alertness and attention. These are dangerous because they can cause addiction, seizures, or heart attacks. Stimulants are often used to lose weight of for studying. Steroids are used to built ones bodies or promote athletic performance. The dangers involved in consuming steroids are mental and physical health effects as well as serious sexual effects (Havens, 2009).

Findings from a 2005 survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health “indicates that approximately 21% of the U.S. population age 12 and older report using any type of prescription drug nonmedically in their lifetime, 16% report us of opiate-type pain killers, 8% report tranquilizer use, 8% report stimulant use, and 2% report sedative use” (Ford, 2008, para. 10). The study also found that substance abuse can cause users to offend the law as well as impair good judgment. However, it has been found that the violations of the law are followed by the abuse of prescription drugs, or other illegal substances. Therefore if one’s teenager is addicted to prescription drugs, legal difficulties will probably...
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