Reasons and Prevention Strategies for Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse among Teens I Prescription Drug Epidemic Among Teens I Megan I Walden University I Reasons and Prevention Strategies for Prescription Drug Abuse among Teens Overview Increasing abuse of prescription drugs among teens can be attributed to psychological, environmental, or behavioral conditions. Drug abuse in teens can be linked to other disorders or conditions which lead to drug abuse. Teens who abuse drugs are likely to become adults who abuse drugs.
It is necessary to understand and address these underlying issues if successful prevention is to happen. First it is necessary to understand the magnitude of the problem 2. 3 million Teens were abusing prescription drugs in 2003. (Controlled Prescription Drug Abuse at Epidemic Level, 2006) This is a very large number of teens abusing potentially addictive and deadly drugs. These numbers indicate a major problem with the potential to rapidly grow out of control if not addressed appropriately. In fact recent studies have found there has been an increase in prescription drug abuse among teens at an alarming rate.
From 2005 to 2008 there was a 12% increase in prescription drug abuse among men’s. (Elliot, Soused, Privet, ;Richardson, 2008) This is a very large increase in a very short period of time. An increase such as this calls for further explanations on why this increase occurred so rapidly. Prevention methods need to be developed to avert teens from a life time of addiction. Teens who abuse prescription drugs are more likely to abuse other drugs. The earlier a teen uses drugs for medicinal purposes the more likely they are to develop a “life time diagnosis of drug abuse”. McCabe, West, Morale, Crawford, ;Boyd, 2007 p. 1921) The damage to the lives f the teens and family of teens suffering from addiction could be devastating. Prevention methods must focus on the underlying cause of addiction rather than addiction itself. Underlying issues such as psychological problems can lead to addiction. Teens who suffer from depression, anxiety, or other psychological disorders may turn to drugs to cope with their problems. Environmental conditions such as parental drug abuse or access to drugs may also lead to teens abusing drugs.
Behavioral conditions in which teens act out or actively seek out dangerous behaviors may lead to teen using drugs to produce a euphoric or exaggerated sense f reality to fill a need for excitement. To prevent drug abuse these issues must be addressed and dealt with appropriately. Prevention is important because not only will it save lives, it will prevent loss of quality of life for the many teens at risk, who do not become prescription drug abusers. Overdosing on drugs can not only cause conditions can lead to long term disabilities which can lead to a very poor quality of life.
It will also save teens from the potential of a life time of fighting substance abuse. Short term prevention can include methods such as ensuring prescription drugs are not easily accessible to teens. Long term prevention needs to address the underlying issues that influence drug abuse. Research and studies need to be conducted to find the most useful ways to address the issues that teens suffer from today. Finding ways to reach teens that they will feel comfortable with and that they will utilize is vital to successful prevention.
Behavioral Dimensions Teen substance abuse can be linked to many causes and have many symptoms. Different behavior patterns may influence a ten’s likely hood of abusing prescription drugs. These behaviors can lead to experimenting which can lead to prescription rug abuse or addiction. It is important to recognize behavior patterns that may put teens at a higher risk for prescription drug abuse. Parent’s, grandparent’s, teachers and anyone else who is in direct contact with teens should be made aware of behaviors that can put teens at risk.
The “presence of sensation-seeking behaviors” can manifest into prescription drug use. (Elliot, Soused, Privet, &Richardson, 2008 p. 19) Sensation- seeking behaviors are behaviors such as driving recklessly for the excitement. Sensation- seeking behaviors may also include cutting oneself to alleviate stress. Teens who exhibit these types of behaviors may be at risk for prescription drug abuse. Teens may begin to experiment with drugs to satisfy curiosity as well. Teens with substance abuse problems may have low impulse control. Thompson, Whittier, Raymond, & Crowley 2006) Again another behavioral pattern in which teens use prescription drugs to fill an emotional need that the behavior no longer does. Not only do teens begin using drugs due to behavioral problems, the problems may also arise or worsen once drug abuse begins. Teens who abuse drugs may exhibit different symptoms. Some symptoms may be caused by the direct effect of the drugs. The side effects depend on whether drug being abused is an opiate, barbiturate, or a narcotic. The side effects may include hyperactivity as well as sleeping heavily or severe drowsiness.
Teens may become withdrawn from family, friends, and other social networks they were once involved with. Symptoms can differ depending on the drug or drugs being abused. (Prescription Drugs Abuse and Addiction, 2005) Psychological Dimensions Teens with psychological problems are more vulnerable to prescription drug abuse. Psychological disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder put teens at risk. Disorders such as ADD and conduct problems may influence the decision to take prescription drugs. While the correlation between ADD and drug abuse is controversial.
Some studies have found teens with a history ADD and conduct disorders do have a higher risk for developing drug addictions. (Roy, 2008) This may be especially true if the teen has a disorder but has never been diagnosed. Overlooking mental health issues in teens may leave them feeling desperate and could cause them to self-medicate to alleviate the symptoms, when in fact taking the abuse can also manifest itself in psychological patterns. Teens that were otherwise lately may experience changes in psychological processes once addicted to prescription drugs.
Mood changes such as depression and withdrawal can be symptoms of drug abuse. Outburst of anger and rage as well as severe depression can be symptoms of drug abuse. (Prescription Drugs Abuse and Addiction, 2005) Drugs can cause major changes in ten’s cognitive functions which can lead to problems such as depression, anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. Teens abusing drugs may seem irrational or extremely distant. Again different types of drugs may have different effects in personality and psychological changes. Environmental Dimensions Environment can play a role in developing addictions as well.
Stresses in a household can overburden teens and they may begin searching for ways to cope. Stress may be caused by “high rates of family conflict. (Elliot, Soused, Privet, &Richardson, 2008 p. 19)Abused or neglected teens may also relieve stress through self-medication. While controversy surrounds using SEES for prediction of prescription drug abuse it is known that where a teen lives does influence risk factors. Physical environment can influence prescription drug abuse. Environment can play a major role in teens developing addictions.
Teens whose parent’s abuse drugs also have a higher risk of developing addictions as well. (Controlled Prescription Drug Abuse at Epidemic Level, 2006)Abused or neglected teens may also relieve stress through self-medication. Often the teens are brought up in homes where they are the essential care givers. They may feel overwhelmed by the stress and begin to experiment with drugs modeling parent’s behavior. Ease of access may also influence a ten’s decision to abuse drugs as well as the type of drug being abused. Prescription drugs are readily available for some teens.
These maybe the easiest drugs to access and the easiest way to escape a stressful home life. (Controlled Prescription Drug Abuse at Epidemic Level, 2006) Teens may easily share these drugs as well. Unlike many other drugs prescription drugs can often be found in the parent’s home or in the home immediate family members. These drugs are often then traded or sold for relatively small amounts of money. Making prescription drugs the easiest drugs to access and often the least expensive drugs as well. Prevention Preventing teens from experimenting with drugs is vital to stopping teens from becoming addicted in the first place.
While addiction is not impossible to overcome it is very difficult. It often takes years for addicts to completely beat their addictions. In that time they have done irreversible damage to their bodies. The only way to stop this from happening is to prevent teens from using prescription drugs in the first place. One way to make this happen is to give teens better coping mechanisms. Mentoring programs are extremely useful in helping teens avoid the pressure to do drugs. (Griffin, 2003) Mentoring programs have very high success rates.
Programs implemented in high risk areas could help teens by giving them role models as well s a trusted adult figure to seek advice and help. It is also important to ensure students are receiving proper medical treatment for any psychological problems they may be having. This can be done through school depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. (Controlled Prescription Drug Abuse at Epidemic Level, 2006) If adults who work with ten’s everyday are trained to recognize signs and symptoms of mental distress or disorders it is more likely teens will receive help.
Offering families outlets and social support for coping with everyday stresses can aid in preventing teen drug abuse. Helping parent’s cope with raising children ND recognizing warning signs can help. As can helping parent’s show interest in what their teens are doing. (Griffin, 2003) Research has shown that teens tend to be healthier when they have good communication with their parent’s. Workshops that help parent’s understand how to communicate could be utilized as a prevention strategy. Public Health Policy Implications Public health is affected and concerned with the growing number of teens abusing prescription drugs.
The reason this is a public health concern is because the growing number of teens abusing drugs meaner more long term health issues such as addiction or disabilities. Long term drug addicts also contribute to the rising cost of health care. Public health’s involvement could mean less incidence of overdose and life time addiction, which directly affects the health of the community. (McCabe,West, Morale, Crawford, &Boyd, 2007 p. 1921) Public health officials can begin with working with healthcare providers and the community to educate about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Center for Disease Control,2010) There are many programs in place to teach children and teens about the dangers of illegal or illicit rugs; however with the rise in prescription drug abuse it is important to address these separately. Many adolescents feel that prescription drugs are a “safer alternative” to illegal drugs. (Center for Disease Control, 2008) Teens may not feel they can overdose or become addicted to prescriptions because they are legal. They do not understand the danger associated with abuse of prescription drugs. There are many reasons teens begin abusing drugs.
Teens often begin abusing drugs to cope with other problems in their lives. These problems can stem from home, school, or peer activities. Teens need to be informed of alternative methods of coping with stress and pressure. Programs need to be implemented to give teens an opportunity to learn other coping mechanisms. Policies mandating schools offer classes or workshops to teach teens methods of coping would be one way for this to occur. Another method would be to involve the community and find ways to build programs that foster healthy coping techniques and trained adults for teens to talk with.
Another reason teens may begin to abuse prescription drugs is to deal with underlying psychological issues. Teens that have been diagnosed with psychological crosiers such as depression, bipolar disorder, or other psychological issues need to be seen by a doctor on a regular basis. Ensuring that a treatment routine is followed and the adolescent is progressing well with the treatment. Teens diagnosed with psychological or behavioral disorders, or that come from a troubled home life could be given other outlets to focus energy and attention on their potential. Roy, 2008) Often teens who suffer from problems such as depression may go undiagnosed. They may feel alone and unable to understand the problems they are facing. One way to cope with this is to self-medicate. This can be avoided if parent’s, teachers, and counselors are trained to recognize the signs that an adolescent is suffering from a symptoms. Formal training for teachers and other adults who work with teens to recognize these signs could aid in the prevention of some teen prescription drug abuse. This can be done by adding it to regular in service workshops as well as adding training to college coursework.
While doctors are trained to recognize drug abusers it is often difficult for them to recognize patients who “move from provider to provider” to obtain and sell prescription medications. (Prescription Drugs Abuse and Addiction, 2005) Since these drugs are sold relatively cheap it makes them more attractive to teens with very little money. With the advanced technology we have today it may be possible to track patients’ prescription drug use in real time so they are not receiving medications from multiple doctors at multiple pharmacies.
This is also a deterrent for doctors who write prescriptions in exchange for money. This works in two ways it makes them more difficult to find and drives up the price making it twice as difficult for teens to obtain prescription drugs. Educating Parent’s and adolescents on prescription drug abuse is important. Many parent’s do not recognize prescription drugs as a danger. Parent’s can be informed of the dangers of leaving prescription drugs where they are easily accessible. Public service announcements can be implemented on the proper care of prescription medication. This is the simplest of prevention methods.
While it cannot stop all teens from abusing prescription drugs it can be a deterrent by making it more difficult for them to begin. Conclusion Prescription drug abuse is on the rise among the teen population. This is occurring at an alarming rate. Drug abuse for any reason is dangerous; however it is important searchers examine the reasons for teen prescription drug abuse to prevent it from happening. There is no one reason teens begin abusing drugs so there is no one prevention method. Prevention will have to come from community involvement, parental involvement, and some policy implementation.
Educating school personnel and parent’s on the dangers of prescription drug abuse as well as understanding the causes of prescription drug abuse is important when it comes to prevention. Educating teens on the dangers of prescription drug abuse as well as healthy outlets for their problems and emotions is vital. It is important that teens recognize that these are not safe drugs simply because they are not illegal. Schools often teach about the dangers of alcohol, smoking, and the use of illicit drugs, however, with the growing trend of prescription drug abuse comes a new realm of problems.
The potential for overdose is extremely high since prescriptions drugs are often prescribe in doses meant for body size and previous use. Different classes of medication carry different risks that teens need to be aware of. Adolescents also need to be aware of the “dangers associated with mixing” prescription drugs. (Prescription Drugs Abuse ND Addiction, 2005) It is important to eliminate the false sense that because prescription drugs are not illicit that they are safe. This can be achieved through education. For this to take place and be effective entire communities need to be involved.