Why Prescription Sharing can have Deadly Consequences for Teens
Prescription drugs are among the most commonly abused substances by teens, and many get them from their friends and peers. Teens often fail to recognize the dangers of abusing prescriptions. They falsely assume that because they are prescribed by a doctor, these medications are safe or at least safer than illegal drugs. In reality, it is never safe to abuse a prescription drug, and taking a medication that was prescribed to a friend constitutes abuse. The consequences of doing this are serious and devastating.
Prescription Sharing in the News
Some recent news stories have shed light on the dangers that can result from sharing prescriptions. Teens may share their drugs to get high, or their intentions may be more innocent. Either way, the consequences are often frightening and serious. In one case, a girl brought her prescription to her high school in the Seattle area and shared it with four other girls. There was no report on what the drug was, but the five girls all took it and may also have been drinking. The result was that they all ended up in the hospital. Not only did the young women become ill from abusing a prescription and mixing it with alcohol, the girl who brought the drug to her friends could be facing criminal charges.
While the girls in Seattle were obviously abusing a prescription with the intent to get high in the middle of a school day, prescription sharing can also involve more innocent motives. For instance, a teen in California took an antibiotic prescribed for a friend because she felt sick and thought it would help. Unfortunately, she had a serious allergic reaction and ended up hospitalized and fighting for her life. The reaction to this particular medication is fatal in a quarter of cases. Even when the intent is not to get high, sharing prescriptions is a terrible idea.
Prescription Sharing and Addiction
Getting sick, being hospitalized or even fighting for one’s life are immediate and serious possible consequences of sharing a prescription. But even when these drugs don’t cause such immediate issues, they can produce long-term struggles. Many prescriptions teens abuse are addictive, and young people are more susceptible to becoming addicted than adults. Abusing prescriptions may seem harmless, but doing so can cause a lifelong battle with addiction.
Prescriptions Teens Most Often Abuse
In many cases, teens share prescriptions because they want to get high or because they want to be able to focus on studying. Narcotic painkillers are one of the top choices of prescriptions to abuse to get a high. These drugs are related to heroin and, while they help people with chronic and severe pain, they also produce a potent high, which leads to their misuse. Teens also abuse stimulants prescribed for ADHD. These medications produce wakefulness and strengthen focus and concentration. Teens abuse them to be able to stay up late for studying and writing papers.
These two categories of abused medications are heavily prescribed and fairly easy for teens to get. Many find them at home or steal them from relatives and then share them with friends at school. ADHD medications are even easier to access as many teens and younger children have prescriptions for them. Some may give the drugs away, sell them to friends or find that they have been stolen.
The consequences of sharing prescriptions are real and often severe. They can even be fatal. If you have a teen, you need to be aware of this phenomenon. Let your teen know that you know this happens. Educate your teen about the risks and help him or her to make better choices.