Prescription Drug Abuse Among Teens

Increase in Drug Use in Teens

According to the Office of the National Drug Control Policy many reports and studies show that prescription drug abuse is a growing concern with teenagers. This includes the abuse of drugs like stimulants, pain relievers, tranquilizers and sedatives.

Currently prescriptions are the second most common abused drug. The numbers for marijuana are the only drugs that are leading this.

Why the Sudden Rise in Teen Drug Abuse?

Over the last couple of years, there has been a steady rise in drug abuse in teens. According to a report by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, teens are abusing marijuana and ecstasy at an increasing rate. Although, we have seen a decrease in illicit drug use, there is a rise in these areas.

As mentioned above, we have also seen an increase in prescription drug abuse in teens. A report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy shows that teens do not place a sense of danger on the use of prescription medications or alcohol.
There are several reasons why teens think it is ok to abuse prescriptions for this which include:

  • Prescriptions are legal and taken daily by millions of people so users think they are safe because they produce a ‘medicinal high’.
  • Many users of these drugs get them from a friend or family member or from someone they know or through a medicine cabinet.
  • Also there are a large percentage of people that can get prescriptions for free this way so these drugs become easier to abuse.
  • These drugs are very accessible so many teens have tried them without anyone finding out they were using them.
  • There are also teens who give into peer pressure and prescription abuse is very common right now.

What Is Being Abused?

There are three categories of drugs that are most commonly abused. These are stimulants, depressants and opiates.

The first category; depressants slow down the system and are used by some to handle anxiety. These drugs lower pulse and blood pressure. They also cause sleepiness, confusion, lack of coordination, memory loss and addiction. Some depressants include drugs like Valium, Ativan, Phenobarbital or Xanax.

The second category of prescriptions includes stimulant drugs or “uppers.” Stimulants include drugs like Dexedrine, Ritalin or Adderall. These drugs speed up the body causing heightened alertness, irregular heartbeat, reduced appetite, heart failure and extreme weight loss. Many that abuse stimulants also can experience psychotic or aggressive behavior.

The third category of these drugs is opiates. Opiates are mainly used for the relief of pain. Many taking opiates experience confusion, sleepiness, constipation, and can even slip into a coma or die from taking these drugs.

The most common opiates that are abused in the prescription drug arena are hydrocodone, oxycodone and Oxy Contin.

Ref: National Institute on Drug Abuse

More About Teen Abuse
Many facts and figures have been put together that tell the real story on prescription abuse among teens. They include:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that for the first time there are as many people newly abusing prescription drugs as there abusing marijuana.
  • One third of new abusers are ages 12 to 17 years old.
  • In the last five years there has been a 62% increase in prescription drug deaths.
  • The last government survey done indicates that over 2 million teens have abused prescriptions.
  • Three out of 10 teenagers believe that painkillers are not addictive even when not prescribed by a doctor.


One of the biggest dangers to teenagers right now are prescription drugs. They account for a large number of overdoses, deaths and the number of teens becoming addicted to them continues to increase.

There are tips that can help prevent teens from becoming addicted including:

  1. Ensure teens have proper drug education at a young age so they don’t start using painkillers in the first place.
  2. Lock your medicine cabinets and keep prescriptions up where children and young adults cannot get to them.
  3. Dispose of all unused prescriptions and medications. Do not leave these in your medicine cabinet.
  4. If you know someone using these drugs, try to get them help. Most non-traditional, results- based rehab programs can have upwards of 70% success rate for handling prescription addiction.

For more information on teen drug use contact Narconon at 800-468-6933.