What Parents Need to Know About Prescription Drug Abuse in Teens

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Most people have some type of prescription drug in their home. Most of the time, they don’t think too much about these medications. After all, they’re supposed to heal, not hurt. However, prescription medicines can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs if used inappropriately. They can be addictive, and prescription drug abuse in teens is a growing problem.

Some of the most common types of drugs are also the most dangerous. These include:

  • Pain killers
  • Sleeping pills
  • Anti-depressants
  • Anxiety medications
  • Stimulants

While these drugs are often helpful, many people abuse them. So much so, that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. If you have teenage children and prescription drugs in your home, there are a number of things you need to know.

Teens misuse and abuse prescription drugs for a variety of reasons. Some see drug use as a social activity, and they use pills that are passed around at parties. Others who want to get good grades use Adderall or Ritalin to help them study or write essays. Others want to get high and take a break from reality, so they use Valium, Hydrocodone or Xanax. Some teens also use prescription drugs in an effort to lose weight.

Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse and Misuse

It’s important that you talk to your teen about prescription drug abuse. Many parents have the conversation once and never do it again, but you need to maintain ongoing dialogue. Even though your teen may know misusing drugs is wrong, they may experiment or give in to peer pressure. Take advantage of opportunities to remind them about staying safe. This may be before they go to a party or when a related story is in the news. Let them know they can talk to you about anything even if they’ve made a mistake. You also need to keep an eye out for signs of prescription drug misuse.

In addition, you and other adults in your home need to be careful about how you use your prescribed medications. It’s important that you:

  • Use medications responsibly
  • Store your medication in a locked cabinet
  • Count the number of pills you have on a regular basis
  • Avoid disposing of pills in the trash
  • Store prescription refill forms in a private location.

What to do If Your Teenage Has Their Own Prescription

If your teen is ill or they’ve undergone surgery, their doctor will prescribe medication to help them get better. While their condition may improve, they may now have access to drugs that are especially dangerous when misused. You will need to monitor their use of these drugs to prevent them from developing unhealthy habits. For example, you will need to:

  • Make sure they use the right dosage at the right time. Your teenager isn’t a little kid anymore, but you should still try to oversee their medication use every time.
  • Remind them that their medication is for their use only. Sharing with friends or classmates is both dangerous and illegal. You should also warn your teen against increasing or decreasing their dosage without talking to their doctor.
  • Keep a record of each pill and the side effects they have on your teen.
  • Go to all doctor’s appointments so you know how your teen is progressing. This also helps you to ensure your child is following the doctor’s instructions.
  • Take note of the activities or drugs your teen should avoid while they’re using prescription meds.

Getting Help For Prescription Drug Abuse in Teens

Drug misuse and abuse are preventable, as we have shown above. However, you can still help your teenager if you suspect they have developed unhealthy drug use habits. Patients who are abusing opioids may show signs of confusion, poor coordination, drowsiness and slowed breathing. They may also require higher doses for pain relief.

Those abusing anti-anxiety medication and sedatives may be drowsy and unsteady on their feet. They may also be confused and have problems with memory. Poor concentration and slurred speech are also common symptoms. Meanwhile, stimulant abuse can result in high blood pressure, insomnia, reduced appetite, paranoia, anxiety, and agitation.

Sometimes, reminding an individual of the consequences of taking more medication than prescribed is enough. Other times, you need to seek professional help. If you’re worried about your teen and you believe they need treatment, contact Asheville Recovery Center. Schedule a consultation with our experienced staff and get the professional advice and guidance you need.