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Prescription Drug Abuse in the U.S.
Addiction and the abuse of prescription drugs are increasing in the United States and teens are the most affected group.
Prescription drugs are easy to obtain; even if a person cannot get the medication themselves they likely know someone who has it. Most people consider these prescription drugs safe, however, a doctor will take into account multiple factors before dispensing these drugs which do not make them suitable for use by other people. If these drugs are misused people can develop a tolerance which can lead to dependency and addiction. In the US every day 2,500 young adults will use a prescription painkiller for recreational purposes for the first time.
Why Do People Abuse Prescription Medication?
Many surveys have been done around the subject of teen prescription drug use. Disturbingly most teens are around 14 years of age when they first start to experiment with these drugs, often as a result of peer pressure. The numbers are disturbing: around 6.7million teens responded that they had abused a prescription drug, either a painkiller or stimulant, and 2.2million had purchased over-the-counter drugs for recreational use. Stimulants were often used to increase academic performance, improve concentration and provide energy.
Whatever the reason for using the drugs there is a lot of misinformation about the safety of doing so. Most teens believe them to be safer than illegal drugs and around 70% of them take them from sources within their own home.
Taking a prescription drug for any reason other than stated is drug abuse, as is taking prescription drugs belonging to someone else. It has been shown that the inappropriate use of prescription drugs makes a teen more likely to turn to alcohol, marijuana and other street drugs, compared to teens who do not. Opioid painkillers are particularly risky since they act in the same way to street drugs like heroin. Once a person becomes addicted to a prescribed opioid they can often turn to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to obtain.
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Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)
PDMPs have been created to help address the problem and act to try to stop drug-seeking behaviors like “doctor shopping”. The programs work clinicians to ensure that prescribing and dispensing these potent drugs are done appropriately. In several states this has shown a reduction in unnecessary prescriptions and doctors are more mindful when assessing patients to help prevent new cases of prescription drug addiction. The PDMPs maintain confidentiality for the patients while working to actively improve a clinician’s ability to identify those at risk of developing a dependency or addiction to prescribed drugs.
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Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment for Teens
To stop the climb of prescription drug abuse in the teenage population it is essential to find out why they are turning to drugs. Treatments need to be holistic and look at the influences behind their drug use. Behavioral therapies can help with cravings, highlight and counteract any triggers and help prevent relapse. There are many forms of therapy available including individual and group sessions and specialized addiction programs.
It may be that some teens need medication to help them combat challenging withdrawal symptoms, so treatment programs must look at a combination of approaches to be the most effective in achieving and maintaining sobriety.
At The Last House, we offer a range of treatment programs specifically aimed at the needs of teens and young adults. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us or call one of our friendly admissions counselors.