Teen Prescription Drug Abuse Reaches New High

teens painkiller addictionMore Teens are abusing prescription painkillers than ever before according to new research from the U.S.

A report from November shows that prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic. This is because more doctors are prescribing powerful painkillers and other narcotics and illegal or unethical online pharmacies are providing people with prescription strength drugs without a doctor’s consent.

Currently, prescription painkillers are the second most abused drug by American Teens. They are second only to cannabis. There are now 10 times more people between 12 and 17 taking prescription painkillers than there were in the 1960s.

The report’s author, Richard Miech, PH.D. of the University of Colorado in Denver said part of the problem may be parents. "I think many parents just don't realize how dangerous unsecured prescription drugs are to their children and their children's friends,"  Miech said.

Often children and teens simply find what they need in their parents’ medicine cabinet. This ease of access might explain why adolescents born between 1980 and 1994 are by far the most likely to abuse prescription painkillers.  Miech said, "The fact that the trend is present across all racial and ethnic groups [just] highlights that this is a problem that affects everyone."

Currently, prescription medication addiction is killing 15,000 Americans a year and the numbers are growing. People take the pills, snort them, crush them up and inject them, anything to get a high.

While drug companies are working to make their pills harder to tamper with, many people believe the best way to fight painkiller addiction is to start in the home. Parents need to keep track of their pain medications. That means knowing how many pills you have, how often you will need to get a refill and who has access to the medication. If a parent notices their pills disappearing or finds they have to get a refill more often, there may be a very serious problem.

Doctors must also reassess their view on how to treat pain. For years, opiate based prescription drugs were considered a last resort for treating pain. It was not until relatively recently that they began prescribing these types of drugs for long term use.

"Ultimately I think we need to change attitudes toward prescription drugs and, hence, their demand. It's not an easy thing to do, but not doing it looks to be quite costly in terms of lost lives and productivity," Miech said.

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