One type of drugs teens are most likely to abuse may be within your medicine cabinet. Xanax, OxyCotin, Vicodin, Valium, Adderall -- all prescription drugs with clear medical uses -- are a growing problem for parents, students, and teachers as abuse of the pills increases.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says every day an average of 2,000 teens use prescription drugs without a doctor's guidance for the first time. From there, the results are staggering, with nearly 15-percent of high school seniors reporting non-medical use of prescription medications within the past-year.
During a meeting at Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas Independent School District on Monday, administrators said there have been 14 students found using drugs in February, nearly double the eight cases reported in January. Half of the students were using pills of some sort.
But what might be more frightening is where those drugs are coming from -- the medicine cabinets of friends and relatives. State health organizations, including New York state, have commented that the ease of access for teens to get into family and friends' medicines may be part of the reason prescription drug abuse is on the rise. A MetLife study done with The Partnership at DrugFree.org in 2012 found that 42-percent who misused a drug got that pill from their parent's medicine cabinet. The study found 49-percent said they got those pills from a friend.
Another piece of the prescription problem puzzle relates to perception. Both kids and adults don't see the pill-popping abuse as that large of a threat. In that same 2012 study, teen responded that though around 80-percent of parents have discussed risks of alcohol and marijuana, only 16-percent have discussed the abuse of prescription pain killers. Teen responded to the survey saying only 14-percent of parents discussed the dangers of other prescription drugs.
Pain killing prescriptions aren't the only drugs being abuse by teens. Anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and Valium and stimulants designed to help sufferers of ADD or ADHD (Adderall and Ritilin, for example) are other prescriptions abused by teens. At TJHS in Dallas, four were transported to the hospital by ambulance after ingesting the prescription drug Xanax. Two were admitted to the hospital.
The challenge to parents and teachers is to not only be on the lookout for symptoms of drug use, but also to communicate the dangers of drug abuse to the teens. DISD says they plan to develop new anti-drug programs for students at TJHS and other schools.