By the staff of West Valley Counseling Center
Adolescents deal with a lot of things that cause stress. To deal with that stress, teens look for coping strategies and escape routes any way that they can. Unfortunately, some teens turn to drugs and other harmful coping mechanisms.
While marijuana and alcohol get the most attention for being gateway drugs, prescription drug addiction is on the rise — so much that the Centers for Disease Control has labeled the issue as an epidemic. Using prescription drugs is one of the paths that adolescents are taking without understanding the consequences of substance dependence and abuse, and where it can lead them.
Because of the lack of awareness regarding the dangers of prescription drugs as gateway drugs and causes of addiction, we have a major issue of miscommunication with adolescents and teens.
Many teens are under the impression that prescription drugs are safe because they are sold in a legitimate medical setting and have been prescribed by a doctor. This could not be further from the truth. By developing an addiction to these drugs, adolescents prime themselves for even more harmful drug-seeking behavior. As tolerance increases, addicted teens will look for cheaper and easier drugs to reach that same “high.”
Heroin has become the drug of choice for many teens who have abused prescription drugs.
According to Foundation for a Drug Free World, even a single dose of heroin can lead to addiction—especially if teens have already become dependent on or abuse other drugs. Teens who abuse prescription drugs are also at risk for overdosing, which is much harder to do when experimenting with alcohol or marijuana. Overdosing is a leading cause of death for heroin users. Because heroin is often much stronger than prescription pills, teens run the risk of overdosing if they miscalculate the dosage.
So, the question remains: How can we protect teens and adolescents from abusing prescription pills?
The best methods include:
• Educate teens about the dangers of prescription drugs
• Store and dispose of prescriptions properly
• Keep an open dialogue with teens regarding addiction and drug experimentation
These ideas are just the beginning to living a healthy and drug-free life.
West Valley Counseling Center offers services in Addiction Recovery and therapy for teens and adolescents, as well as adults. For more information or to speak to one of our staff at the West Valley Counseling Center, please contact us at (818) 758-9450 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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