Did you know that prescription and over-the-counter drugs are the most commonly abused substances by Americans ages 14 and older, after marijuana and alcohol? This is just one of the many alarming facts when it comes to teens and prescription drug abuse.
Here we take a look at some others:
1. Prescription drugs that affect the brain, including opioid painkillers, stimulants, and depressants, may cause physical dependence that can turn into an addiction.
2. Many teens believe that prescription drugs are safer and less harmful than other drugs – but this isn’t the case. And, in fact, the impact is particularly harmful to a developing adolescent brain and body. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), short- and long-term health consequences include:
- Stimulants: Similar to cocaine, these drugs cause paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, and an irregular heartbeat. This is especially true if they are taken in large doses or in ways other than swallowing a pill.
- Opioids. These meds act on the same parts of the brain as heroin and, depending on the amount taken, can cause drowsiness, nausea, constipation, and slowed breathing.
- Depressants. Chronic use can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, fatigue, disorientation, lack of coordination, and seizures upon withdrawal.
3. One in four teenagers mistakenly believe that prescription drugs can be used as a study aid, notes SAMHSA.
4. Two-thirds of teens who misused pain relievers in the past year got them from family and friends, including their home’s medicine cabinets, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The solution: safe storage and disposal of medications.
5. Seven out of 10 teen non-medical users combine opioids with other substances, including marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, tranquilizers, and amphetamines.
6. More than half of the drug overdose deaths in the United States each year are caused by prescription drug abuse.
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