Prescription Pills: What are Teens Using?

Taking prescription pills or over-the-counter (OTC) products for non-medicinal purposes is one of the most common forms of teen substance abuse. According to the “Monitoring the Future” report released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, OTC and prescription medications followed behind marijuana in usage rates among high school seniors in 2012.

However, this category covers a wide range of drugs, from pain relievers to stimulants, so what exactly are teens using?

Recently, Philly.com published a list of the most commonly abused drugs for adolescents and adults. Among them is a substance called dextromethorphan, which can be found in many standard cough medicines. “Large doses can cause euphoria, distortions of color and sound and “out of body” hallucinations,” the source reports. Abusing this substance can cause an individual’s heart rate to increase, and may lead them to lose control of their muscle functions.

Pain relievers are also widely misused, the website states. The NIAD report echoes this assertion, reporting that 7.5 percent of 12th graders experimented with this pain killer in 2012, while 4.3 percent used OxyContin.

Motion sickness medication is also used to achieve a high, although these pills take action much slower than other substances. “Some teens and adults may take as many as 40 pills of Dramamine, for example, to experience the desired [effect,]” Philly.com notes. This medication can also bring on hallucinations.

All of these medications, when abused, can become addictive and may cause serious health risks when abused. If you are concerned that your child may be using prescription or over-the-counter products in this way, consider taking action by holding a drug abuse intervention. A professional interventionist can provide the guidance and support you need to help your loved one.

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