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Prescription for Trouble

Fact Sheet

WHAT WE KNOW

The problem of teen and young adult abuse of prescription medications grows daily in the United States. Consider the following 2007 statistics collected by the Partnership for a Drug Free America:

  • 20% of teens have abused a prescription pain medication

  • 20% of teens have abused prescription stimulants and/or tranquilizers

  • 10% of teens have abused cough medication.

Teens feel these drugs are legitimate, manufactured in a laboratory, prescribed by doctors and purchased within the law; therefore they are not as dangerous or as addictive as illegal drugs purchased on the street. They are readily available, often found in their home medicine cabinets or in the pockets of their friends. One does not need to find a connection as one would for heroin, cocaine or marijuana.

WHAT WE CAN DO

Education and communication are the key ingredients to helping children avoid experimentation and possible addiction to any kind of drugs. Experts recommend telling children the following information about prescription drugs:

  • Prescription drugs taken without a doctor’s prescription or against a doctor’s orders or supervision are often just as dangerous as taking illegal drugs or drinking alcohol.

  • Painkillers contain the same basic ingredients as heroin: opiates. They can adversely affect the respiratory system and cause serious, chronic depression.

  • Depression medications can cause seizures, respiratory depression, and seriously decreased heart rate.

  • Stimulants cause body temperature to rise, irregular heart beats, cardiovascular system failure, seizures (often fatal), and hostility or paranoia.

  • Doctors prescribe specific medications for specific illnesses — medications that can have beneficial results for the intended diagnosis. However, prescription medications can have very different impact on people who are healthy.

  • Doses of medications are designed for a specific person based on age, weight, degree of illness and other variables. The effects of taking an inappropriate dosage can range from mild to deadly, and can cause dangerous interactions if other drugs or chemicals are present in the body.

  • The dangers from abusing prescription medications increase when other drugs or chemicals are present in the body and can often be lethal.

RESOURCES Consumer Healthcare Products Association www.chpa-info.org

D.A.R.E. www.dare.com

Drug Enforcement Administration, National Drug Threat Assessment 2007 www.dea.gov

Kids Health www.kidshealth.org

The National Institute of Drug Abuse www.nida.nih.gov

OTC (Over the Counter) Safety www.otcsafety.org

The Partnership for a Drug-free America™ www.drugfree.org

© 2007 CWK Network, Inc.

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