Drugs at High Schools: More Pills Than Ever

Drugs at High Schools: More Pills Than Ever

Counseling is Integral to Successful Treatment
Teens Don’t Realize the Danger

We’ve been reporting frequently on the disturbing trend of prescription drugs becoming more and more the drugs of choice on college campuses.

Abuse of any prescription drug is potentially deadly and any prescription drug use can be habit forming.  Opiate drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin carry with them a particularly high risk of building tolerance in the individual leading to physical and mental addiction.  Also, the similarity in sensation of narcotic opiate painkillers is  identical to another well known opiate – heroin.  The evolution from Oxy addiction to heroin addiction and eventual overdose has been the main catalyst driving policy makers to re-think the legality of OxyContin.

A recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that was conducted in the second half of 2009 and released last month in June shows that High School students have caught on in record numbers to the recreational effects of various substances – OxyContin included.

Attention related drugs like Ritalin are still the most popular as the provide a boost to study sessions.  “Nationwide, 20.2% of students had taken prescription drugs (e.g., Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin, or Xanax) without a doctor’s prescription one or more times during their life.”

Seniors in high school are even more likely to have abused a prescription drug. Of course the percentage of college students who are abusing prescription drugs is even higher.  According to the Journal of Attention Disorders study,  who have used a drug in the last 30 days is disturbing – 7.5%.

The stimulants (Ritalin and Adderall)still seem to be the most popular drug of abuse, and we think there are two reasons for this:

a) they are able to give a boost to study sessions

b) they are more commonly prescribed to younger people (for ADD and ADHD) making them easier to divert to others that same age

Of course, along with the abuse of a stimulants like these is the precedent of changing moods via medications or “better living through chemistry.” Also along with an amphetamine like sensation of Adderall comes the need to “come down.”  To the teen who is experimenting, what more logical way  to chill out but to take another pill (like Xanax or Ambien) to relax? For a more extreme sensation – Vicodin or OxyContin.

If you are a parent concerned about your teen using drugs, it can be utterly bewildering how to proceed.  The relationship with teenagers is already fraught with difficult conversations and life transitions.  We recommend talking to a professional MFT, counselor, interventionist, or any other professional who has insight into the phenomenon of drug abuse and getting at risk youths the help they need.

Too many families have gotten the phone call that it is too late for them to ever have the conversation with their teen.  Don’t let this be you.