Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

When Regular Use Leads to Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse can start for teens when they or another family member are written a legitimate prescription by their family doctor. Without proper supervision or secure storage of medications, teens may be tempted to experiment with the use of these prescription pills and inadvertently develop an addiction or, worse, overdose.

The results can be deadly when teens abuse prescription drugs. Every single time they abuse pills, they are risking an accident, life-changing choices made under the influence, and death. It’s not a problem that parents should ignore.

If your son is abusing prescription pills of any kind, early intervention and treatment can change his life. To learn more about the different types of teen-specific programs we offer to treat substance abuse here at Muir Wood, contact us at the phone number listed above or download an enrollment packet today.

Prescription Drug Abuse

What defines teen prescription drug abuse? There are a number of different behaviors that characterize the abuse of prescription medication, even if that prescription belongs to the user. These behaviors include:

  • Crushing pills before taking them
  • Snorting pills or dissolving them in water to inject them
  • Combining the pill with other illicit substances, including alcohol and marijuana
  • Taking more pills than prescribed or increasing the number of doses in a 24-hour period

Additionally, taking any prescription medication without a prescription is termed prescription drug abuse as well.

Teen Prescriptions for Pain Management

Though it is rare, your teen may require a short-term painkiller prescription after a surgery or accident or for the treatment of chronic pain. In all of these instances, it is important to take grave note of the fact that these drugs are highly addictive. Parents should be heavily involved in timing the doses and administering the medications rather than giving the medication to the teen to manage. Without appropriate supervision, your teen may experiment with the drugs as described above and inadvertently overdose or increase his tolerance, which in turn causes a physical dependence and can lead to a full-blown addiction.

Teen Prescriptions for ADHD Treatment

Teens diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be prescribed medications like Ritalin, Intuniv, Vyvanse, and others that aid them in managing the symptoms of the disorder. In teens diagnosed with ADHD, these medications have the effect of calming the patient and helping him to focus, but when body chemistry changes, the drugs have a stimulant effect that includes a euphoric high and manic state that many find addictive. In fact, many teens don’t alert their parents or doctor to the changes in effect of their medication in order to continue to get high.

Your Prescriptions Can Trigger Prescription Drug Abuse

Adults are often given a short-term painkiller prescription for pain relief after an acute issue like dental surgery or an accident. If they no longer need the pills before the prescription runs out, many will put the extra pills in the medicine cabinet and forget about them. Teens looking for pills to experiment with may find these medications and take them without their parents even noticing that they’re gone.

Additionally, parents and adult family members who have ongoing prescriptions for addictive medications to treat pain or anxiety may also find that they are often coming up short without explanation. In these cases, again, teens may skim a few pills off the top in order to get high and/or share them with friends.

Addressing Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

Remember that even if there are no prescriptions of any kind in your home, prescription drug abuse can still be an issue for your son. His friends may have their own prescriptions or get pills from their family members and share them with him. Called “pharm parties,” it is not uncommon for groups of friends to try and bring different substances to a party – including unknown medications that they find in the medicine cabinet at home – and take them recreationally, often in combination with marijuana and alcohol.

The important thing to remember is that addressing the situation early on can be a huge component in the efficacy of the treatment your teen receives. The less time he spends in active abuse of prescription painkillers, the lower the risk that he will experience an overdose or accident under the influence.

Contact us today at Muir Wood to talk to a counselor about your child’s needs in substance abuse treatment. We offer an intensive and comprehensive boys-only rehab experience that can help your teen stop using drugs and alcohol today. Call now.