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Prevention Presents: Teens & Prescription Drug Abuse

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Teens & Prescription Drug Abuse 
Donna Bacon, M.Ed., LSC
Prevention Education Specialist 

The feeling that summer is winding down can cause a lot of teens to want to enjoy the remaining days of summer to their fullest.  Some plan picnics and sporting activities, some try to finish up that summer reading, and others try to get in as much socializing and “hanging out” as they can before parents become more strict about curfews and whereabouts. For some young people, "hanging out" also means “partying.”  That word typically brings to mind use of tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol – drugs that are illegal for young people in no uncertain terms.  But sometimes teens are not using drugs that they consider “illegal” – prescription drugs, in all their variety, are a dangerous road to addiction as well.

Prescription medicines as well as over-the-counter medicines are being abused by young people every day.  Some teens are even hosting and attending “Skittles” parties where everyone brings the prescription medications they have on hand and pool them. Then anyone at the party who wants a pill just dips in and grabs whatever they want.

According to the site Narconon.org, it is easy to understand why teens might choose to abuse prescription drugs. Their parents take prescriptions, and they are sometimes prescribed these drugs themselves, making the drugs readily available in their homes or in the homes that they visit. Abusing these drugs may seem like just a small step away from the drugs’ legitimate use, however what teens do not understand is that addiction and death can easily follow a "Skittles" party. The bowls at one of these parties may contain any or all variations of opiates, narcotics, anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds, steroids – the list is endless.  Any of these drugs can become addictive and send a person to treatment for recovery. What's more is when a number of these drugs are taken together, they can create a complex medical situation that is difficult to untangle in the emergency room.  Any number of unrelated drugs working together can suppress respiration with immediate danger or cause long-term toxic damage to the brain and body. Many teens also combine these easily-obtained drugs with alcohol, increasing negative effects, risk of addiction, and risk of death.  Statistically, 18% of our young people will have abused an illicit drug (including prescription drugs) in the last month. 

Please remember that it isn’t just at these parties that youth are popping pills, either.  Many teens are doing it daily. Keep an eye out. Some of the most common symptoms of drug abuse in teenagers include: lying, making excuses, breaking curfew, missing school or work, staying in their room, becoming verbally or physically abusive toward others, mood swings, sleepless nights, stealing, changes in friends, sleepiness, lowered inhibitions, poor coordination, irritability, or out-of-character excessive happiness.  While many of these symptoms individually could just be travails of going through the teen years, any combination of them could indicate serious trouble. Talk to your children regulary; know where they are and who they hang out with. That is the best form of prevention for any drug abuse. 

To help keep out of date or unused prescription or over the counter medications out of your cabinet, drop them in one these convienvent Drop-Box sites in Lucas County

For additional resources about the prevention and treatment of addiction, visit:










   cherylthompson blueborder 
Common Counseling Myths
Cheryl Thompson, LPCC
Clinical Therapist II



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