Teen Pill Abuse Rises
When it comes to teenage substance abuse, parents today have much more to worry about than just pot and alcohol. A new study from the Partnership for a Drug Free America reveals some striking data about teens and prescription drug use. The study finds that one in six teens has taken a prescription drug in the past year, and one in five show signs of prescription drug dependence, while one in 11 is already dependent on a prescription drug. "The numbers are staggering," says Amara Durham with theCaron Treatment Centers of Texas, which is the largest non-profit addiction treatment provider in the country. "The access and the peer pressure are making this an epidemic."
Regarding access, Durham says many parents simply don't realize how available these drugs are to young people. "It is so easy for our teens to get prescription drugs, either in their own parents' cabinets, in their friends' parents' cabinets, or even in an open house tour." Beyond that, some young people even have "pharma parties" with bowls of prescription meds available. Durham argues it's up to parents to limit that access as best as possible. "Have a locking box where you store the medications," she says. "If you don't think you're gonna take the meds, don't fill the script, or if you fill the script and you don't need (the medication), turn the meds back in."
Ultimately, parental involvement and communication are the most important factors in preventing this type of drug abuse, or catching it before it goes too far, according to Durham. "When (their) peer group changes dramatically, when there's no longer an interest in what they used to like, or when all of a sudden you're dealing with a child that has mood changes and temper flares...you know something's not right," she says. The bottom line, she argues, is parents must be proactive in order to keep this "epidemic" from getting worse.