There are many different ways for people of all ages to abuse prescription drugs. Recent studies show that as many as 1 out of 5 teens have abused prescription medication by loaning a prescribed drug to a friend or borrowing a drug from someone they know. A study published recently in the “Journal of Adolescent Health” based its conclusions on a survey of nearly 600 kids across the country between the ages of 12 and 17.
With more and more teens getting prescriptions to battle disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder, the pool of available drugs to share or swap with friends is fairly deep. There are many concerns associated with this type of prescription drug abuse, according to doctors, including the potential for side effects, addiction and withdrawal symptoms. For example, a stimulant like Adderall may be prescribed for a teen diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD. Some of the side effects with Adderall include increased heart rate and blood pressure. When prescribed by a doctor, the side effects are explained to the patient and family, who immediately report any issues to the doctor. However, when the drug is given away, there is usually no knowledge or concern about side effects.
Parents can take a number of measures to reduce the potential of teen prescription drug abuse, experts say. Perhaps most important is that parents should store and maintain control of any prescription drugs, giving out only daily doses. In addition, parents should take some time to explain the risks associated with prescription medication – the potential side effects their children should be aware of and the potential dangers faced by someone else taking a drug that isn’t prescribed to them by a doctor. This information should be shared with any relative who looks after the teen in addition to the parents.