Today’s teenagers don’t need to turn to the streets to buy their illicit drugs from drug dealers. In fact, the use of illegal drugs by our nation’s adolescents is declining. Unfortunately, rather than the street drugs posing the greatest threat to our upcoming generation, it is the non-medical use of prescription drugs and the over-the-counter medications that our young people are misusing and abusing.
The Current Trends
According to the latest Monitoring the Future Survey of almost 50,000 students, 8th, 10th and 12th graders, the drugs of abuse were amphetamines, sedatives, tranquilizers, the ADHD medication Ritalin, and over-the-counter cough medications. In fact, 7 out of the 10 drugs most abused by 12th graders are the legal prescription or OTC (over-the-counter) drugs.
Another trend established by the survey is that alcohol remains the most popular drug used by teens overall, and Marijuana remains the most popular illicit drug.
Especially alarming is the fact that the overriding majority of the teenagers who abuse these types of drugs, the prescription and OTC medications, get them at home or from friends, not the local drug dealer.
Let’s take a look at 5 places where our nation’s teenagers are getting their drugs.
Again, according to the Monitoring the Future Survey study, the most popular method of acquiring prescription painkillers/drugs is for teens to steal them from the family medicine cabinet at home. The person can steal the pills from the bottles in the medicine cabinet, many times without even being noticed.
According to the survey, teens can get the prescription drugs from their friends just by asking for them, or buying them. It would likely be safe to assume that those friends could be getting those drugs they are sharing from their own family medicine cabinet at their home.
In this same survey of 50,000 teens, the youth surveyed reported the third most common way they acquire the prescription drugs they are abusing is to buy them from strangers. It could give us pause for thought that these drugs are so readily available and so commonplace, if not easily gotten from family and friends, then from a mere stranger. Unfortunately, just as most teenagers get their alcohol from parents or friends, the same is true for the prescription drugs being abused.
From Illegal Internet Pharmacies
The internet–the information highway–always a two-edged sword, it seems. Along with the nearly instantaneous availability of all that is educational and enlightening and helpful just at a person’s fingertips, comes the dark side of human nature with its amoral greed, its criminality–and its drug-pushers. And most of our young generation is adept at the use of the internet, and can find whatever it is they need or want, good or bad. Internet pharmacies are a source of drugs for our teens.
From Grocery or Drug Stores
DXM (Dextromethorphan), an OTC (over-the-counter) drug commonly abused by teens, is in cough syrup and caplets that can be purchased at the local grocery or drug store. When used as directed, the cough remedies are considered to be safe, but when abused, can produce mind-altering effects. Because it requires excessive amounts to obtain the high, the drug can cause nausea, vomiting, along with elevated blood pressure and heart rate. Excessive amounts can also cause severe respiratory suppression.
It is a sad commentary on our culture and our times that one of the greatest dangers to our children stems from drugs in their own homes, a place traditionally meant to be a safe haven where a child can grow-up, and experience an upbringing enabling that child to go out into the world, to be a functioning and productive member of our society. Historically, we pass on our culture, our values, the leadership of our nation and our world, and our very hope for the human race, into the hands of our children upon becoming the adults of their generation. It is upon those adults in the home who use prescription drugs to keep them in a secure place, and properly dispose of any unused pills. It is upon the parents to ensure their children and teenagers fully understand the truth about drugs and their dangers, and set a good example of a sober lifestyle themselves.