A Moment of Science

Teen Drug Use: More Prescriptions, More Abuse?

Prescriptions are increasing drastically for adolescents and young adults in the US. What problems might this trend be causing?

prescription_drugs

Photo: ep_jhu (flickr)

Why is there an increase in prescribed narcotics, sedatives and stimulants to teens and young adults?

A new study found that non-medical use of prescription drugs is becoming extremely popular for teens and young adults. These drugs are the most commonly used illicit drugs, behind marijuana, for this age group.

The question is, how are these drugs getting prescribed in the first place?

Dr. Feel Good?

The study found that prescriptions for drugs, which the Food and Drug Administration deemed as possible candidates for abuse, have nearly doubled for this age group in the past 14 years.

If you are a young adult, you have a 1/6 chance of being prescribed a drug when you visit the doctor. For adolescents, it is a 1/9 chance.

These drugs were classified as narcotics, sedatives and stimulants. Often times these drugs were prescribed to treat common conditions such as headache or back pain.

The increase of these prescribed drugs could be due to many things. Federal regulations now have a higher advocacy for pain regulation. There is a heightened awareness of disorders such as insomnia and anxiety.

Play It Safe

The higher rate of prescriptions doesn’t necessarily mean that drug abuse will increase among teens. However, physicians cannot ignore the problem of abuse and “sharing” of prescribed medications.

At your next doctor visit, be sure to go over the risks, benefits and proper usage before you or your child begin taking controlled medication.

Read More:

  • Prescriptions for Teens and Young Adults on Rise (University of Rochester)
  • Prescribing of controlled Medication to Adolescents and Young Adults in the United States (Pediatrics)

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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