Prescription drug abuse is becoming an increasing problem in the United States. More than twenty percent of Americans report using prescription pills in order to get high. About ten percent of high school students have used Vicodin, an opioid painkiller, for a non-medical reason. After marijuana, prescription pills are the most commonly abused substance in the country. At the rate that abuse is increasing, prescription drug abuse will soon be more common than marijuana abuse. The term “prescription drugs” is a fairly vague term. Included substances are opioids (Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin), amphetamines (Adderall, Desoxyn, Vyvanse), and tranquilizers (Valium, Klonopin, Xanax).
Increasing Rates of Prescription Drug Abuse
Experts believe that the leading cause of the growth in prescription drug abuse is their availability. Drugs are often over-prescribed, especially amphetamines. For example, over twenty million ADHD medications were filled last year, and only three to five percent of school-age kids have ADHD. Doctors are quick to prescribe medications over any kind of therapy, and this is pushing more drugs onto the market. With tranquilizers and opioids, many people use the prescribed amount, and save the remaining pills for the future. Putting prescription medication that is likely to be abused in the medicine cabinet may provide a child an easy way to get high. Prescription medications are cheap for adolescents, as they are commonly taken from a parent’s supply. The fact that they have medical use leads many teens to believe that they are safer than illicit drugs. This perception is completely wrong, and education regarding the dangers of prescription drug abuse has been proven to help.
Recent studies have found that rural teens are more likely to abuse prescription drugs. Specifically, they are twenty six percent more likely to abuse them. There have been no definitive reasons for this trend, although experts have made some speculations. First, with the growing availability of pharmaceuticals, it is often easier for a rural teen to obtain prescription drugs than marijuana or alcohol. In some rural communities, more teenagers report using painkillers than marijuana, which is shocking as marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance. Drugs that are similar to pharmaceuticals such as opiates are often rare in rural communities. As the cheapest, easiest way to get high, teenagers are turning to prescription drugs. Of course, there are other variables such as family income, marital status of parents, and level of care received as child. However, these variables created an insignificant change in statistics. The biggest issue of the rising prescription drug abuse problem for rural teens is the lack of treatment options that exist. Outside major cities, it is often difficult for someone to find a treatment center, and the stigma regarding drug addiction is another preventative factor. For more information on this issue please visit, Teen Drug Abuse