Teens and Prescription Drugs: Little. Legal. Lethal.

Nearly one in five teens has used prescription drugs to get high; one in ten high school seniors has abused prescription drugs in the past year. And that's just what they're willing to admit.

By Alexis Jetter from Reader's Digest | December 2010

“Kids think prescription drugs are safer than street drugs because you can buy them in a drugstore,” says Nancy Coffey, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency official for New England, one of the nation’s hot spots for prescription drug abuse. “But they’re more powerful. And that’s where kids get into trouble.”

Lots and lots of kids. Nearly one in five teens has used prescription drugs to get high; one in ten high school seniors reports having abused a prescription drug in the past year. And that’s just what teens are willing to admit. They say they like the woozy, light-headed feeling that drugs like Vicodin, used in excess, can induce. “It takes everything away,” says Jack,* 17, from rural Maine. “You don’t feel hurt; you don’t feel stress. Nothing bothers you.”

Accidental fatal drug overdoses have soared by 500 percent since 1990, and federal officials say prescription medications — primarily painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and methadone, all synthetic versions of opium — are largely to blame. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid painkillers now cause more lethal overdoses than heroin and cocaine put together. Most alarming: The rate of fatal overdose among 15- to 24-year-olds has spiked 300 percent in recent years.

Young people simply don’t understand that even legal prescription drugs have a “wild-card factor,” says Thomas Andrew, MD, New Hampshire’s chief medical examiner. Methadone, the biggest prescription drug killer in New Hampshire, kicks in slowly, then lingers at full strength. That long “half-life” is dangerous for anyone not used to the drug, Dr. Andrew says. “They’ll take 40 milligrams, which is a big dose, and a little while later, they’ll say, ‘I’m really disappointed. I thought I’d get a buzz on from this. I’m just going to take another 40.’

“But by the time the full 80 milligrams kicks in, it’s not going to make them feel the way they want to feel,” Dr. Andrew says. “It’s going to stop their respiration.”

  • Your Comments

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/ANZ6PTVBF54SXG4C4A2MV7747U D J

      I have crused disks in my back and my left knee is worn out,  I am disabled because of this . I drove over the road Motor Coaches simler to Grey Hound bus lines. I was a indepent owner opeartor for many years working for myself .  As the years wore on I wore out the disks in my neck by constanly
      looking for trouble

      I do not understand but people in cars do not see you . I worked with many old school drivers who knew how to drive a million miles with out getting into a accident . Loading and unloading lugge bays kile my back and clutches with 1500 pound rated pressure plates wrecked my knee. I stopped driving in 2005 as thepain became un bearable .  I was prescribed Pain meds and only took them when of duty or not working . I retired in 2005 mainly due to  09 / 11 / 2001 killed the travel and tour industry but more importantly I was not able to drive as Ikilled my body . 

      I had a house for sale and one buyer wanted to see the bathroom and I was distracted by the husband . When they left all my Medcine for pain was stolen . This couplw was in there 40s .  When the house was being showed I kept my medcine in my Car Trunk.   One day a realtor said that she had a be back and asked if she would be able to show the house.  I did forget to put my medcine in my trunk . I said it will be okay.  I saw the realtor coming down the street and left for 30 minutes. 

      A older man and the realtor went in . I came home 40 minutes later and had a buyer at the start of the housing melt down . I went up Stairs  to my bathroom as I could not walk and once again I was robbed
      off my medcine . At closeing I bit my tounge but had the Sheriff show up and found out later after the papers where singed the realtor who was in her 50 s had one of my bottles in Her Pocket .

      This is just not kids stealing either . I did press charges and wonder how many other people did she steel from ? 

      Enough Said Dave