Parents worrying about their teenagers experimenting with drugs is nothing new. For decades, the concern has mainly revolved around teens using hard drugs such as cocaine or heroin. While this concern remains, the truth is, “hard” drugs aren’t as common as they used to be. However, prescription drug abuse is on the rise because they are more accessible.
Prescription drug abuse is just as addictive and dangerous as street drug abuse. Plus, the abuse of prescription drugs can lead to the experimentation of other illicit drug use.
As a parent, understanding the rise of prescription drug abuse is important. Knowing what to look for and how to seek addiction treatment can help your child avoid years of struggle.
Here’s what you need to know to help your teen:
Statistics on Adolescent Prescription Drug Abuse
It’s difficult for most parents to accept the possibility that their own child is abusing drugs, prescription or otherwise. But however difficult, it’s important for parents to be aware of some of the statistics surrounding adolescent prescription drug abuse and take action of they suspect a problem. Here are some stats to bear in mind:
- For kids aged 12 and 13 years old, painkillers are their top drug of choice.
- 20% of teenagers have experimented with hydrocodone (Vicodin).
- The majority of teens who abuse prescription drugs obtained from family members or friends.
- Only 1% of parents believe their teen has a problem abusing prescription drugs while in actuality, 10% of teenagers report using them.
- A third of teens think that prescription drugs are safer to use than hard drugs such as meth, cocaine, or heroin.
By empowering yourself with the truth of prescription drug use among teens, you can better recognize a potential problem and seek addiction treatment for your child if necessary.
Recognizing the Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse in Your Teen
It’s easier to assume that your teenager doesn’t have a problem with drugs and that addiction is something that only happens to other people’s kids. When it comes to street drugs, many parents assumed that it was only the “troubled” kids who used. But with prescription drug abuse, the problem extends to teenagers from all walks of life from honor students to high school dropouts, regardless of their socio-economic background.
Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs include:
- Adderall- a commonly prescribed amphetamine used to treat ADHD
- OxyContin- a narcotic painkiller
- Vicodin- another potent painkiller
- Valium- a benzodiazepine commonly used for treating anxiety
- Xanax- a benzodiazepine used for treating anxiety
Keep in mind that the signs of prescription drug abuse will vary depending on the drug being used. Having said that, here are some of of the most common signs to look out for:
- Any changes in your teen’s normal personality, mood, or behavior
- Unusually high energy levels
- Daytime sleepiness
- Rapid weight loss
- Secretive behavior
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Mood swings
- Erratic behavior
- An increase in the demand for privacy
- Stealing or selling possessions for money
- Dry mouth and nose
- A decrease in personal self-care
- Loss of appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Memory problems
All of these potential signs could be caused by something other than drug abuse including stress or an undiagnosed mental illness. However, as a parent, you can be on the lookout for some of these issues and look into them further.
Taking the Next Step
Once you’ve determined that your teenager might have a prescription drug abuse problem, the next step is talking with your teen. Have a calm, candid conversation where you show a willingness to listen and understand. Avoid using angry language or lecturing and try to keep your emotions in check. Your teen might be afraid to admit their drug use. Express your concerns with love and care and be patient.
The next thing to do is set up an appointment with your family doctor to conduct a physical to check for drug use. You might want to look into seeking the help of a mental health professional to evaluate your teen as well.
Seeking Addiction Treatment
After your teen has been evaluated, seeking addiction treatment is crucial. Prescription drug addiction treatment for teens is available in many forms, and the right choice for you will depend on your child’s needs and the severity of their problem.
It’s important to note that many teens might require a medically supervised detox as they begin treatment. Stopping prescription drugs cold turkey can be dangerous, so seek help from addiction treatment experts once a problem has been identified.
Some treatment options include the following:
- Therapy and Drug Counseling with weekly sessions
- Dual diagnosis treatment where treatment for a diagnosed mental health disorder is treated in addition to the substance disorder.
- Drug rehabilitation which occurs at different levels of intensity depending on your child’s needs.
- Medication to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce agitation.
- Family therapy to help each member of the family understand prescription drug abuse and how they can support each other.
Prescription drug rehab might involve outpatient drug rehab programs where patients go to treatment several times a week for a few hours.
Day treatment is another option where teens go to school part-time and then spend several hours in treatment each day.
Inpatient rehab is for teens with more serious addiction and offers around-the-clock care on a full-time basis for anywhere between 28 to 120 days depending on the child’s needs.
Find Help Today
If you are concerned about your teen’s use of prescription drugs and you want to learn more about available addiction treatment options, we encourage you to contact us at SOBA.
We offer a variety of addiction treatment programs for those struggling with any type of addiction and we’re here to help your family overcome this challenging time. We also provide mental health services for your teen to address the addiction from every angle.
Call us with any questions and to set up a time to tour our facility.