Teenage girls and prescription drug abuse
What is prescription drug abuse?
Prescription drug abuse is when someone takes a prescription drug that was prescribed for someone else of in a manner or dosage other than what was prescribed. Prescription drug abuse for teens can include taking a friend’s or relative’s prescription to get high, treat pain, or because they think it will help with studying.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs among teenagers are opioids, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants. Opioids are prescription drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin which are painkillers. Central nervous system depressants are drugs such as Xanax and Valium. Stimulants are drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall. Stimulants are the most commonly abused prescription drugs out of all of them.
Among teenagers aged 12 to 17 years old, 7.4% reported non-medical use of prescription medication which qualifies as prescription drug abuse. Prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs are among the most commonly abused drugs by seniors in high school only after marijuana and tobacco. Teenagers who dabble with prescription drug abuse are also much more likely to report use of other drugs such as cocaine, alcohol and hallucinogens.
Many teenagers abuse prescription drugs in order to get high, treat pain, or because they think it will help them with their school work.
Recent research is showing that American teenage girls have caught up with boys in their rates of smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. In 2004, 1.5 million girls started using alcohol, 730,000 girls started smoking, and 675,000 started using marijuana, according to the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
This wasn’t always the case. Teenage girls are also now more likely to abuse prescription drugs like pain pills and ADHD medication than boys. According to SAMHSA teenage prescription drug abuse is on the rise and teen girls are leading the way. 9.9% of girls vs. 8.2% of boys used prescription drugs in a manner other than prescribed. Girls between 12 and 17 had higher rates of dependence or prescription drug abuse than boys in the same age range. This may be because teenage girls and prescription drug abuse has a different reason than that of their counterparts the teenage boys.
According to a survey by NIDA which asked hundreds of teens their motivation for abusing prescription drugs, teenage boys were more likely to use them to get high and experiment while teenage girls use them to help them concentrate or stay alert. In other words, teenage girls use prescription drugs to “self-medicate” or “self-treat” for a specific purpose. Teenage girls tend to use prescription drugs to help their mood, boost their confidence, and cope with problems. A desire to lose weight also contributes to prescription drug abuse; teenage girls pop diet pills four times more than boys.
There is a dark side to teenage girls and prescription drug abuse. For instance teenage girls who smoke, drink, and take prescription drugs are at a higher risk for depression, addiction and stunted growth. Also, because prescription drug abuse can lead to substance abuse it usually goes hand in hand with risky sexual behavior causing them to become more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease or become pregnant.
Prescription drug abuse does not have to go on forever and there is help for it. Attending a drug and alcohol rehab can quickly help any teenage girl or boy to overcome their prescription drug abuse problem and they can hopefully do this before it’s too late.