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Teens and Drug Abuse: Rx and OTC Medications

Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership, says that the strong declines in illegal use, combined with the news that teens are learning a lot about drugs and alcohol at home, underscore the power and influence of parents. He stresses that this type of risky behavior should be a big concern to parents, and they shouldn't miss an opportunity to discuss it with their kids.

The first step is to realize where there is potential for abuse. Although many prescription medications can be abused, the following three classes are most common:

  • Opioids--usually prescribed to treat pain.
  • CNS Depressants--used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.
  • Stimulants--prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse provides information about the dangers of abusing these drugs.

    Another troubling sign noted by Partnership surveys is a significant change in teen motivation for drug use over the past ten years: Teens are using drugs more to relieve stress than to have fun. Three out of four teens (73 percent) reported that the number one reason for using drugs is to cope with school pressure. In the PATS 2007 Parent Report, only 7 percent of parents believed that teens might use drugs to deal with stress, clearly underestimating stress as a factor on their teens' decision to use drugs.



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