Prescription Drug Abuse: The Deadliest Threat to Our Nation's Youth
There was a time when America's parents were worried that their son or daughter might become addicted to illicit, street-market narcotics such as methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, or heroin. However, today's have changed and with that change, a new, much more ominous threat has emerged: prescription drug abuse.
While street-narcotics are still very much a real problem with today's drug-abusing culture, it remains a very distant second to legally prescribed drugs' dominance in the race to destroy our nation's youth.
...Nowadays, teens don't even need seedy connections to buy potentially, life-threatening substances. What's worse, most prescription abusing teens don't even have to leave the comfort of their own home...
In regards to prevalence, its ability to hook users, and its lethality, substances prescribed by doctors - mostly opioids and anti-anxiety medications - have far surpassed that of street drugs.
According to TeenDrugAbuse.Gov, the total of teenage overdose claims the lives of almost 5,500 teens each year. Roughly half of those deaths come from prescribed drugs, which is more than any two illicit street drugs combined.
As to why the last decades have seen such change the reasons are as many and complicated as addiction itself.
But one contributing factor that most addiction experts site is the fact that prescribed drugs are much easier to obtain than that of street drugs. Often times, teens can even find these drugs in their parents, friend's parents, or other family member's medicine cabinets.
The CDC estimates that roughly two-thirds of teens who overdose on prescription drugs find them in their family's medicine cabinet. And, what's worse, according to the CDC a significant portion of these teens receives their deadly, prescribed habit from "caring" family members with that family member's consent.
Despite Deadly Statistics That Prove Otherwise Teens Abusing Prescription Drugs Believe They're Safer Than Street Drugs
As the CDC's research shows, 50% of teens who abuse prescription pills hold the erroneous belief that, because a doctor initially lawfully prescribed them, prescription medications are safer to abuse than illicit street drugs.
According to more CDC studies, 2,500 youths begin using prescription drugs for recreational use every day. These numbers, coupled with overdose and the widespread usage of prescription drugs, are more than enough to confirm that prescription drug abuse among teens has become a legitimate epidemic.
Most Abused (and lethal) Prescription Drugs Being Used By American Teens
1. Opiates - are painkillers that, if abused, provide users with psychoactive effects comparable - if not indistinguishable - to that of heroin. The only difference between opioids and heroin is that opiates are being legally distributed by doctors, who are writing prescriptions by the millions on behalf of Big Pharmaceutical - who, of course, compensates their legal drug dealing physicians rather generously.
It is also worth noting that many opiate abusers eventually turn to heroin to suffice their opioid cravings.
2. Depressants - Such as, Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, etc. are designed to treat those who suffer from anxiety disorders. However, depressants are also a popular 'recreational' drug among teenage party-goers, who choose to gamble with their lives by mixing the already dangerous drug with a lethal mixture of alcohol.
3. Stimulants - Stimulants, like Adderall and Ritalin, were created with the intent of treating ADHD and other attention deficit disorders. Unfortunately, stimulants have taken on a new job description: The most misused, abused and addictive prescription drugs used by American adolescents.
Prescription Drug Abuse Leads to Teenage Deaths
According to the latest research, almost 80% of prescription-related fatalities among youth are attributed to opioid abuse. Other prescription overdoses are largely attributed to other depressants such as Xanax. In total, teenage fatalities due to prescription overdose have doubled since 2001 (765 to 1,950).
What Parents Can Do to Fight This Epidemic
While our nation's youth are currently battling a hard-fought prescription abuse epidemic, parents can rest assured: the fight is far from over. Remember, this isn't the first widespread disease that America has fought and ultimately overcame.
How do we eradicate this addictive pathogen you ask? The answer is simple: Knowledge.
In short, by providing a more dynamic and thorough drug education system for our children, as well as a more proactive means of treatment concerning drug abuse and addictions, we can kill prescription drug-addiction before it reaches the next generation of youth.
Worried your teenage son or daughter may be abusing prescription drugs? Here are some simple, albeit profound, steps you can take to make sure your child isn't among the millions of teenagers abusing doctor, prescribed medications:
- take the time to talk to your child about the deadly nature of prescription drugs - even if it doesn't look like it, they listen more than you think
- if you have prescription drugs, keep them out of reach so to speak; locked away
- monitor your teen's online usage and who they spend their time with
- dispose of any used prescription bottles
- further educate yourself on the latest statistics, research, and warning signs regarding prescription drug usage among teens