Adolescents do not perceive prescription drug use as drug abuse. Ninety percent of children who become addicted to narcotics started by innocently taking a prescribed drug at home or at the home of someone they know to help with a headache, insomnia, anxiety, etc.
Prescription drug use leads to dependency. Seventy percent of adult drug addicts that go through a drug treatment program will stay clean for the rest of their lives. Only 30% of adolescent drug addicts that go through a drug treatment program will stay clean for the rest of their lives! And the only way they’ve found to make that percentage go up is to have adolescents go through drug treatment programs 7 times!
Those who are addicted to drugs, whether adults or adolescents, will scavenge for drugs at any and all available sources: parents, grandparents, babysitting homes, friends, neighbors, even trash cans. When all their sources have been exhausted for prescription drugs, adolescents will turn to the next easiest drug to get, heroin. One hit of heroin costs only $5.
Awareness is the first step toward change. The average age of an adolescent who begins abusing prescription drugs in Utah is 18.5 years old. Set an example, as a parent, to never give a child or adolescent prescription drugs for any reason. Limit the accessibility children and teens have to prescription drugs. Fill your children’s lives with positive emotional experiences, for they are more likely to spend more time with you and less time with dangerous vices, like prescription drugs.
A list of drugs that teens commonly abuse:
Prescribed medications (such as Ritalin and OxyContin)
Inhalants: Known by such street names as huffing, sniffing, and wanging. The dangerous habit of getting high by inhaling the fumes of common household products is estimated to claim the lives of more than a thousand children each year. Many other young people, including some first-time users, are left with serious respiratory problems and permanent brain damage.
Over-the-counter cough, cold, sleep, and diet medications (such as Coricidin)
Marijuana: About one half of the people in the United States have used marijuana, many are currently using it, and some will require treatment for marijuana abuse and dependence.
Stimulants: The possible long-term effects include tolerance and dependence, violence and aggression, and malnutrition due to suppression of appetite. Crack, a powerfully addictive stimulant, is the term used for a smokeable form of cocaine. In 1997, an estimated 1.5 million Americans age 12 and older were chronic cocaine users.
Club Drugs: This term refers to drugs being used by teens and young adults at all-night dance parties such as “raves” or “trances,” dance clubs, and bars. MDMA (Ecstasy),GHB, Rohypnol (Rophies), ketamine, methamphetamine, and LSD are some of the club or party drugs gaining popularity. Because some Club Drugs are colorless, tasteless, and odorless, they can be added unobtrusively to beverages by individuals who want to intoxicate or sedate others. In recent years, there has been an increase in reports of Club Drugs used to commit sexual assaults.
Depressants: These are drugs used medicinally to relieve anxiety, irritability, and tension. There is a high potential for abuse and, combined with alcohol, effects are heightened and risks are multiplied.
Heroin: Several sources indicate an increase in new, young users across the country who are being lured by inexpensive, high-purity heroin that can be sniffed or smoked instead of injected. Heroin has also been appearing in more affluent communities.
Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse
Physical: fatigue, repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes, and a lasting cough.
Emotional: personality change, sudden mood changes, irritability, irresponsible behavior, low self-esteem, poor judgment, depression, and a general lack of interest.
Family: starting arguments, breaking rules, withdrawing from the family.
School: decreased interest, negative attitude, drop in grades, many absences, truancy, and discipline problems.
Social: new friends who are less interested in standard home and school activities, problems with the law, and changes to less conventional styles in dress and music.
Most parents would agree with the statement that children should not do drugs. But when it comes to talking to their teens about the dangers of drug abuse, many neglect to broach the subject. “A don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is often put into place, either intentionally or from not knowing how to approach teens in a straightforward and effective manner about this contentious issue.