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Taking a prescription drug for other than its medical use and in a non-specified dose is referred to as misuse. Taking someone else’s medicine either for a legitimate reason, like pain, or to feel euphoria is also a misuse. The classes of drugs most commonly misused are:

  • Opioids, used for pain management
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, like sedatives, hypnotics, and tranquilizers, used to treat sleep disorders and anxiety
  • Stimulants, used for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Misuse of prescription drugs can have grave medical consequences. The last 15 years have seen a surge in the misuse of prescription drugs, not only by adults, but also by teens. This has been apparent from the increase in emergency room (ER) visits, admissions for treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD), overdose deaths, and addiction statistics. According to government statistics, there was a five time increase in overdose related deaths in 2016 as compared to 1999.

Misuse of Prescription Drugs A Serious Public Health Concern in U.S.

Misuse or abuse of prescription drugs like CNS depressants, stimulants, and opioids is a major public health concern in the U.S.:

  • Nearly 18 million people (of which more than 6 percent were 12 years or older adolescents and teens) abused prescription drugs at least once in the past year in 2017.
  • The results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that approximately 2 million Americans (aged 12 or older) abused prescription analgesics in the past one year for the first time which was close to nearly 5,500 new attempts per day.
  • In addition, 271,000 Americans, aged 12 years or older, abused sedatives, 1.5 million abused tranquilizers and more than one million abused prescription stimulants for the first time.
  • Among young users of 12 to 17 years, 4.9 percent reported nonmedical use of prescription drugs in the past year.
  • Prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drugs by 12th graders after alcohol, marijuana and tobacco.

These statistics clearly show that prescription drugs are a preferred drug of abuse for adolescents and teens.

Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse

The symptoms of prescription drug abuse depend on the type of drugs misused by a teen.

  • Symptoms of opioid abuse are confusion, drowsiness, constipation, nausea, slowed breathing, disorientation, feeling of euphoria, requirement of higher dose, and increased sensitivity to pain with higher doses.
  • Symptoms of stimulant abuse include insomnia, agitation, anxiety, paranoia, irregular heartbeat, feeling high, improved alertness, high blood pressure and body temperature, and reduced appetite.
  • Symptoms of sedative and hypnotic abuse are drowsiness, dizziness, poor concentration, slowed breathing, slurred speech, memory deficits, and unsteady walking, among others.

Causes of Prescription Drug Abuse Among Teens

There are many reasons why teens abuse prescription drugs. Some of these are:

  • To feel high, more alert or good
  • To experience the mental effects of drugs
  • To reduce appetite
  • To maintain an addiction and prevent withdrawal symptoms
  • To improve concentration at school
  • To be accepted by peers
  • To relax and reduce stress

Risk Factors

Prescription drug abuse can offset at any age but it mainly starts during teens or young adulthood. Some of the risk factors of prescription drug abuse include:

  • History of substance abuse in the family
  • Past and present addiction to substances like tobacco and alcohol
  • Having co-occurring psychiatric disorders
  • Peer pressure
  • Social setting where drug abuse is rampant
  • Easy access to prescription drugs
  • Limited awareness about the prescription drug and their harm

Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse in Teens

Parents and guardians need to take an active part in their teens’ lives to identify if they are moving towards opioid use disorder. Some of the steps that can be taken to prevent prescription drug abuse in teens are:

  • Discussing the danger of prescription sharing with them so that they know that it is not OK to share their medicines or take medicines prescribed for someone else
  • Discussing the dangers of alcohol abuse and prescription drug abuse as doing these together can lead to a drug overdose
  • Keeping medicines in a locked cabinet away from the reach of children
  • Monitoring online activities of teens to check if they may be ordering counterfeit or dangerous drugs online
  • Following the label instructions or taking the help of the pharmacist to discard expired or unused drugs

Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

Treatment for prescription drug misuse depends on the type of prescription drug abuse and other related factors such as duration, dose, severity of addiction, etc. Oftentimes, counseling or psychotherapy is an essential part of the treatment. Treatment may also comprise detoxification, addiction medication, and support through recovery.

While a detox helps the body get rid of toxic substances and manage withdrawal symptoms, therapies help uncover any medical or mental condition responsible for substance abuse. They are also beneficial in teaching teens effective life skills that they can use to lead a drug-free life post treatment completion. Help groups after recovery ensure that the teen is supported throughout their recovery and is encouraged to work towards sustaining the same.

Why Choose ADEONA Healthcare

What sets ADEONA Healthcare apart is our dedication to design a treatment plan tailored to the teen patient’s needs. Our trained and experienced staff conducts a biopsychosocial assessment that provides our clinicians with a full mental and physical health report of the patient and a blueprint for their individualized treatment plan.

A treatment that fails to address co-occurring disorders leaves a patient – especially a teen –vulnerable to a relapse. Co-occurring disorders is the co-existence of a mental illness and substance use disorder. Our trained clinicians provide our young patients with the right blend of treatment, education, and support. They use wide-ranging evidence-based and alternative therapies including CBT, process group therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), substance abuse education, brain wellness, art therapy, and yoga to help the teen recover and heal.

ADEONA Healthcare of Rancho San Diego is the leader in treating adolescent mental health issues and its manifestations like substance abuse, and dual diagnosis. For more information on our holistic addiction treatment programs, call our 24/7 helpline (888) 997-3966. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.

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