Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Teens and Drugs

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The good news is that the rates of most drug use have decreased except for inhalants and painkillers. The bad news is that prescription drugs are the most abused drugs (other than marijuana) by teens, and 64% report getting them from friends or family.

The Office of the National Drug Control Policy reports that in 2006 there were more than 2.1 million teens abusing prescription drugs including painkillers, depressant (sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs), and stimulants. The reasons they report using the drugs are to get high, to increase concentration and alertness, or even to control weight by reducing their appetite.

Unfortunately, many teens think abusing prescription medications is less risky than illicit street drugs, and the perception of the risk associated with inhalant use has decreased among teens. On the other hand, there are several things that seem to reduce the likelihood that teens will use drugs. They include perceived parent disapproval of drug use, religious beliefs, participation in religious activities, and exposure to prevention messages.

If you have not told your kids how dangerous using any drugs is, and how much you do not want them using them, please do. Make sure you do not keep old prescription drugs in your home, keep dangerous ones locked up, and be a role model - don't use them yourself.
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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