Prescription Drug Overdose in Teens and Young Adults

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In 2013, the prevalence of having ever taken prescription drugs to get high is significantly higher among students in grade 12 (17.5%) than in grades 9 (6.8%) and 10 (9.1%) [Data source is the CT School Health Survey, 2013]

11.1% of students had taken prescription drugs (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, codeine, Ritalin, or Xanax) without a doctor’s prescription to get high one or more times during their life

Most teens get prescription drugs they abuse from friends and relatives, sometimes without the person knowing
Boys and girls tend to abuse some types of prescription drugs for different reasons: Boys are more likely to abuse prescription stimulants to get high, while girls tend to abuse them to stay alert or to lose weight.
Teenagers abuse prescription drugs to:

Help them with school work
Stop physical and mental pain
Be rebellious
Look for acceptance and bonding with peer groups
Boost self confidence
Five steps parents can take to address their teen’s drug problem:

Remember, there are NO quick fixes to this challenge.

Lay down rules and consequences: Your teen should understand that using drugs comes with specific consequences. But do not make hollow threats or set rules that you cannot enforce. Make sure your spouse agrees with the rules and is prepared to enforce them.

Monitor your teen’s activity: Know where your teen goes and who he or she hangs out with. It’s also important to routinely check potential hiding places for drugs - in backpacks, between books on a shelf, in DVD cases or make-up cases, for example. Explain to your teen that this lack of privacy is a consequence of him or her having been caught using drugs.

Encourage other interests and social activities: Expose your teen to healthy hobbies and activities, such as team sports and afterschool clubs.

Talk to your child about underlying issues: Drug use can be the result of other problems. Is your child having trouble fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress? Parents should stand firm and united in talking to the child. Single parents can have another family member present for support.

Get help: Teenagers often rebel against their parents, but if they hear the same information from a different authority figure, they may be more inclined to listen. Try a sports coach, family doctor, therapist, or drug counselor. Remember getting help for the child is expressing love and taking care of the child’s well-being.
5 Myths about Drug Abuse and Addiction

MYTH 1: Overcoming addiction is a simply a matter of willpower. You can stop using drugs if you really want to. Prolonged exposure to drugs alters the brain in ways that result in powerful cravings and a compulsion to use. These brain changes make it extremely difficult to quit by sheer force of will.

MYTH 2: Addiction is a disease; there is nothing you can do about it. Most experts agree that addiction is a brain disease, but that does not mean you are a helpless victim. The brain changes associated with addiction can be treated and reversed through therapy, medication, exercise, and other treatments.

MYTH 3: Addicts have to hit rock bottom before they can get better. Recovery can begin at any point in the addiction process—and the earlier, the better. The longer drug abuse continues, the stronger the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat. Do not wait to intervene until the addict has lost it all.

MYTH 4: You cannot force someone into treatment; they have to want help. Treatment does not have to be voluntary to be successful. People who are encouraged into treatment by their family, employer, or the legal system are just as likely to benefit as those who choose to enter treatment on their own. As they sober up and their thinking clears, many formerly resistant addicts decide they want to change.

MYTH 5: Treatment did not work before, so there is no point trying again. Recovery from drug addiction is a long process that often involves setbacks. Relapse does not mean that treatment has failed or that you are a lost cause. Rather, it is a signal to get back on track, either by going back to treatment or adjusting the treatment approach.

Resources and References:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Talking to Your Kids About Prescription Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
Family Check Up: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse (NIDA):
SAMHSA Opioids Overdose Prevention Toolkit:

For more information, please call

The Office of Injury and Violence Prevention 

(860) 509-8251