Special to The Morning Star
Every year, more people initiate abuse of prescription drugs than any other drug. Out of the top 10 substances abused each year, three are prescription drugs.
These startling figures serve to point out the tragic growth in the abuse of prescription drugs. When used properly, under a doctor’s care, prescription drugs can be therapeutic; misuse can result in death.
Teens are abusing prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to get high. These include painkillers, depressants, stimulants, narcotics and drugs prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Teens also abuse OTC drugs such as cough and cold remedies (by consuming large amounts to get high). Opioids (such as the pain relievers OxyContin and Vicodin), central nervous system depressants (e.g., Xanax, Valium), and stimulants (e.g., Concerta, Adderall) are the most commonly abused prescription drugs (NIDA.com).
Many youth view prescription drug abuse as safe and acceptable because they are manufactured by reputable companies and therefore no impurities are present in the drug.
There are many reasons why teens abuse these drugs. They include: acceptability, availability and the desire to alleviate unpleasant emotions or stresses. Secondary school students who misuse prescription narcotics report that they obtained the drugs for free from friends or relatives – 70 per cent (CESAR, 2012).
If you know someone who is abusing prescription or OTC drugs talk to them, talk to their parents or school counselor, but get them help as soon as possible – treatment should be pursued quickly. Finally, safeguard your medications at home. Lock them up and take unused or old medications to you pharmacist for safe disposal.
Please don’t flush them down as many are unsafe for our water supply.
Doug Rogers is the substance abuse prevention counsellor for the Vernon School District.