Many Teens Think Prescription Opiates Are Safe Because They’re Legally Prescribed
The teenage years are known to be a time of exploration, risk taking and sometimes, rebellion. One of the biggest threats facing young people today is opiate abuse. According to a study done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, teens abuse prescription drugs more than any other illicit drug except for marijuana.
So why is this becoming such a growing epidemic? Prescription medication is often easy for teens to obtain. One place they gain easy access is their parents’ medicine cabinets. Moms and dads may have been prescribed these meds for pain relief after surgery or a dental procedure. And they’re sitting, unmonitored, in cabinets across America. Parents are often unaware their teens are knowledgeable about the use of prescription painkillers and fail to see the danger in leaving them unattended.
Pill Popping The Main Attraction At Many Teen Parties
Parties are other outlets that provide teens with access to prescription drugs, including opiates such as oxycodone and benzodiazepines such as Klonopin. Social settings like these often provide teens with their first introduction to recreational drug use. Kids taking these medications for the first time are often unaware of the effects and dangers. They may even manipulate pills by crushing them for snorting or injection. This intensifies effects but can lead to prescription drug overdose.
Mixing prescription pills with alcohol or other substances can also be deadly, possibly leading to life threatening respiratory depression. According to USA Today, teens have their own lingo regarding parties where pill popping is the main attraction. They’re referred to as “pharm parties,” and some offer baggies filled with different prescription meds called “trail mix.” Kids exchange these drugs after “pharming” their parents’ medicine cabinets.
Opiate Abuse Is A Serious Matter But There Are Signs To Watch For
Another reason prescription medications have become a popular choice among teens is the misconception that since they are legal and legitimately prescribed, they are safe. Many of them simply don’t think taking pills is as bad as taking “harder” drugs. But we’ve all heard that prescription pills are being abused by suburban teens at alarming rates. And when opiates can’t be found easily or cheaply, some people turn toward heroin. Many teens become addicted to the high that prescription opiates offer but can’t keep up their habit financially. Heroin offers a cheaper alternative to the same high.
If you suspect that your teen is abusing prescription meds, warning signs to look for include:
- Change in appearance
- Weight loss
- Dilated pupils
- Change in behavior
- Loss of interest in friends, school, activities
- Constant requests for money
- Drug paraphernalia
- Small wax bags
- Spoons with burn marks
- Straws, pens without ink