One in Ten Teens Reports Abusing Prescription Painkillers

The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that about one in ten teenagers say that they’ve abused a sedative or a prescription painkiller (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet, Lorcet) without a prescription and for non-medical use. These data are based on information culled through a survey of 2,100+ young people under the age of 20 who were admitted to the ER for any reason. The results of the survey were published in the journal Pediatrics.

This is a shocking statistic to many parents. Where are kids getting the pills? And what is the best way to protect them from the potentially fatal effects of these dangerous drugs?

Are Your Kids Getting Prescription Pills From You?

If you or someone else in your family have been prescribed a short-term prescription for an opiate painkiller after a surgery or to manage acute pain and some of those pills went unused, it’s possible that your son may be “borrowing” the leftovers and taking them himself or sharing them with friends. Likewise, your son’s friends may be taking extra pills from their parents, grandparents, and other family members and giving them to your child.

It’s rare for a teenager to have enough money—or the needed connections—to purchase prescription pills on the street from dealers. However, some may know the right people to make this happen while others may have luck ordering these kinds of medications online. No matter what the source, use of these pills without a doctor’s supervision can be toxic.

Can You Protect Your Son From Prescription Drug Abuse?

Like the abuse of any illicit substance, you may not be able to control the availability of different drugs and alcohol to your teen, but you may be able to influence his response to these exposures. Few parents realize the effect that their opinions have on their kids, yet many teens report that they chose to avoid drugs and alcohol—or stopped after minimal experimentation—based heavily on their parents’ influence.

But even more important than the discussion that parents have with their kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol are their actions.Do you drink heavily or frequently? Do you abuse drugs of any kind? Do you overmedicate? What about other adults in your home? How do you respond to family members who have drug and alcohol problems? Your teen sees all of this, and it can have a profound effect on their choices.

Getting Help for a Teen with a Drug Problem

Whether your son is abusing prescription pills, alcohol, other drugs, or a combination of substances, your intervention could save him from developing a drug dependence or experiencing an overdose. Contact us at Muir Wood now to learn more about options in addiction treatment for teen boys.