Muir Wood Teen
Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services is a Joint Commission-accredited mental health and substance use disorder treatment provider located in Petaluma, California. We provide integrated evidence-based care including psychiatry, psychotherapy, experiential therapy, wellness services, and milieu therapy for adolescents and teens, and their family members.

Only 20 Percent of Parents Surveyed Report Concern over Teen Narcotic Abuse

A national poll published by the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital reported that only 33 percent of parents say they are concerned about the non-medical use of addictive prescription drugs by teens. Only 20 percent said they were worried about the misuse of prescription medications by teens in their families.

Additionally, though prescription painkiller abuse is three times higher among white teenagers than African American or Hispanic teens, only 13 percent of white parents were concerned about their children’s risk for non-medical use of prescription drugs—as compared to 38 percent of African American parents and 26 percent of Hispanic parents.

Why are parents so unconcerned about the prescription drug abuse that is clearly an epidemic among American teens?

A Lack of Education

Many of the views expressed by parents in the survey can likely be chalked up to a lack of education. For example, about 50 percent of the parents surveyed said they didn’t think it should be a requirement that unused addictive narcotic prescriptions should be disposed of safely at a neutral location like a doctor’s office or a police department. If parents were made aware of the fact that a huge percentage of teens in recovery for prescription painkiller addiction report that they first abused prescription pills when they took unused pills from their parents—or shared the pills that a friend found in their parents’ medicine cabinet—then they may change their mind.

A Belief that Prescription Drugs Are Safe

Additionally, many parents and teens are under the mistaken impression that because narcotic painkillers and other addictive drugs are prescribed by a doctor and processed through a pharmacy, they are in some way safer to use than street drugs. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Doctors prescribe specific doses to patients based on their symptoms, their medical history, other medications they are taking, their age, weight, and other issues. In some cases, they will avoid prescription of certain drugs to certain patients because of red flags that indicate they could be dangerous. Those who take any drug without a prescription or in any way alter their prescription may find out the hard way that these medications are exceedingly powerful—and deadly when misused.

Sarah Clark is the associate director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan. In a press release, she said, “Recent estimates are that one in four high school seniors has ever used a narcotic pain medicine. However, parents may downplay the risks of narcotic pain medicine because they are prescribed by a doctor. However, people who misuse narcotic pain medicine are often using drugs prescribed to themselves, a friend or a relative. That ‘safe’ prescription may serve as a readily accessible supply of potentially lethal drugs for children or teens.”

Get Treatment for Your Child Today

If your son is abusing prescription medications, don’t wait to get him the professional intervention and care he needs to stop. At Muir Wood, we can help. Contact us at the phone number listed above today.