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Prescription Drug Abuse

Deep down inside, you know that your child is a good kid. But you also know that good kids sometimes make mistakes. And if you suspect that they’re misusing prescription drugs, you’re right to be concerned.

As the popularity of misusing prescription drugs has skyrocketed, more and more teens and young adults are becoming victims of addiction, health problems and overdoses.

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescription drugs are pills and other types of medicine that a doctor or qualified medical professional has ordered for a specific person and for a specific medical purpose.

Because prescription drugs are powerful, and because they have serious side effects, doctors who prescribe these drugs take many factors into consideration before doing so – such as the patient’s weight and medical history.

And, because prescription drugs are for specific people with specific medical needs, it is illegal for a person other than the patient to use the prescription – even for the same medical condition. It’s also illegal for the patient to use the prescription in an amount other than what was prescribed.

Many types of prescription drugs are misused, but the three most common are:

  • Opioids. Opioids are prescribed mainly for pain relief. Common opioids include codeine, Vicodin, and OxyContin.
  • Depressants. Depressants are used to treat anxiety and sleeping issues. Common depressants include Valium and Xanax.
  • Stimulants. Stimulants are prescribed mainly to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Common stimulants include Adderall and Ritalin.

Rx Drug Misuse Among Young People

In the last few years, prescription drug abuse among teens has skyrocketed. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse recently found that for Americans over the age of 13, prescription drugs are the most misused substances other than marijuana and alcohol.

Researchers also recently found that one in ten high-school seniors had misused prescription drugs within the past twelve months, and one in twenty of them had done so in the previous month. That’s a lot of kids who need help.

Where Do Kids Get Prescription Drugs?

One reason people often misuse prescription drugs is that the drugs are relatively easy to obtain. Young people often get prescription drugs from the following sources:

  • Their own home. Kids sometimes find drugs in their parents’ or caregivers’ medicine cabinets, which is why parents and caregivers should keep prescription drugs in an inaccessible place.
  • A friend’s or relative’s home. Kids sometimes obtain these drugs from other homes, such as a relative’s, without the person knowing.
  • Online. It’s possible to purchase prescription drugs online from sources such as fake online pharmacies or websites on the dark web.
  • Peers. Kids may get prescription drugs from friends or peers who have illicitly obtained the drugs themselves.

The Dangers of Prescription Drugs

Because of their narcotic properties and high addiction risk, it’s illegal to use prescription drugs without a prescription. When people take these substances in amount or in a way that was not prescribed, it can lead to serious health problems and even death. Some specific examples of harmful side effects include the following:

  • Stimulants can cause paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures and irregular heartbeat. Other long-term effects of stimulant misuse include stroke, bleeding of the brain and seizures.
  • Opioids can cause drowsiness, nausea, constipation and slowed breathing. Opioids are highly addictive, and their misuse has a severe danger of overdose. Opioids can also cause liver and brain damage.
  • Depressants can cause their victims to have slurred speech, breathing problems, exhaustion and coordination problems. Long-term problems resulting from the misuse of depressants include heart problems, memory problems and seizures.

The most serious danger of these drugs is that of overdosing. Most deaths from overdose in the US today are a result of the misuse of prescription drugs. A recent study shows that about 60,000 Americans died from prescription drug overdoses in 2016.

Why People Use Illegal Prescriptions

Teens misuse these drugs for a number of reasons, such as the following:

  • To get high
  • To relax
  • To relieve pain or anxiety
  • To be more alert
  • To perform well in a competition
  • To lose weight
  • To have more energy to get schoolwork done

Is My Child Abusing Pills?

If you are concerned that your child is using these drugs, you should watch for the following signs of drug abuse.

  • Missing pills, pill bottles or other forms of medicine. Keep track of your prescription drugs. If you find that pills are missing or that you need to refill your prescription earlier than you expected, your child may be using these drugs.
  • Significant changes in behavior. People who begin misusing prescription drugs sometimes start hanging out with a new set of friends. You might also see a change in your child’s personality, declined performance at school, and/or changes in their appearance. You should also be concerned if they suddenly lose interest in their extracurricular activities such as sports.
  • Changes in sleeping patterns. Since these drugs can make a person sleepier or more aroused, people who are misusing them often have changes in their sleeping habits – significantly more sleep or significantly less sleep.
  • Symptoms of the physical or psychological effects of drug use. If your child seems to be high, lethargic or forgetful, you should be concerned.
  • Weight loss. Some prescription drugs cause a loss of appetite – sudden or unexplained weight loss is a sign that your kid could be misusing these drugs.

What to do When Your Kid Shows Signs of a Prescription Drug Problem

If you suspect that your child is misusing prescription drugs, you may not know what to do. But there’s hope. Keep these points in mind:

  • Many families have been there. If your family is struggling, remember: you can get the help you need. With compassionate, professional care, your child can stop misusing drugs and live a healthy, happy life. There are many people who want the best for your child and your family, and it’s going to be OK.
  • Early intervention is essential. Because the risk of addiction increases quickly with drug use, it’s important that someone who is struggling with prescription drugs gets the treatment they need as soon as possible. Don’t wait.
  • You can get advice and support at Sandstone. At Sandstone, your child will be accepted completely, just as they are. In our warm, youth-focused environment, young people feel comfortable and right at home. Our friendly and caring staff is ready seven days a week to answer any questions you have and offer the guidance you need to help you deal with your unique situation. Give us a call at (888) 850-1890 to learn how we can help.
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