Parents of teens need to be aware that the fastest-growing drug issue in the United States may not be what they think it is. When most people hear the term substance abuse, they may consider the use of heroin or cocaine. However, the drug issues affecting teens the most these days are substances that can be found in their own homes.
It’s common for teens and young adults to get high from prescription drugs found in family medicine cabinets. The data on prescription drug use shows that thousands of teens have used prescription pain relievers without a doctor’s guidance. This could involve taking a few of grandma’s pills that she is bound not to notice or taking them from friends’ houses. As a parent, there are steps you can take, both practical and educational, to protect your teen.
The use of prescription drugs is popular among teens not only because they are easily accessible. There is a common misconception that these drugs are “safe” because they are legal and prescribed by a doctor. But many prescription drugs, especially painkillers, are prescribed with careful supervision because they can be dangerous if they are not taken appropriately.
The side effects of many prescription drugs include:
The consequences of prescription drug abuse can harm any person’s body, but it’s particularly significant for teens as their brains are still developing. The frontal lobe, which is responsible for making decisions, controlling impulses, and impacting perception, is not fully developed until an individual reaches their mid-twenties. Damage to this part of the brain can impact teens' ability to make good decisions, the consequences of which could affect them well into adulthood. Drug addiction in the teen years can impact them physically as well as socially for many years to come.
Here are a few ways you can prevent prescription drug use in your home:
Most teens who have abused prescription drugs sought them out from friends or other family members. In other words, the drugs they abused were not prescribed specifically for them. If you or someone else at home uses prescription drugs, be sure to keep them in a place your teen can’t access. For example, a lockbox, if necessary. The traditional medicine cabinet in the bathroom may no longer be an ideal place to store medicines. You may want to keep track of exactly how many pills are in each bottle so you will know if any go missing.
Painkillers and other medicines are being prescribed by doctors at greater rates than they use to be. Many people are now asking doctors and pharmacies to have better monitoring systems in place when it comes to prescription drug registries. This can help medical staff know how often these drugs are being prescribed. Over-prescription can lead to misuse and potential overdose.
The social media platform, TikTok, is a place to share videos of everything from recordings of original songs to cute animals playing. It’s also a place where some people document their use of drugs, using the hashtag #TripTok. These videos are often made to be funny as users document how certain drugs make them feel and react, often garnering millions of views. Because this platform is popular among teens and young adults, many of those views are by teenagers who may be influenced to mirror the videos that they are watching. TikTok by itself does not promote drug use, as it is prohibited in the platform rules, but that doesn’t prevent other people from finding loopholes around these guidelines.
It is essential to understand that videos showing drug use do not show drug use consequences. Though this content is prohibited by TikTok guidelines, these videos are still posted and widely shared because of clever hashtags that disguise the actual content. Parents must be vigilant about what teens are viewing on their smartphones and strongly consider setting some boundaries around the use of social media. It’s also important to have ongoing conversations with teens about what they’re viewing, what they’re posting, and what their friends are posting. Encourage your teen to report videos that show or otherwise glorify drug use.
By opening up conversations with your teen, you can express your concerns regarding drug use. When you talk openly and honestly with your child, they will learn to do the same with you. If they find themselves struggling with substance use, it is essential to get them connected with treatment resources as soon as possible.
As a parent, it's scary to think that your teen might be in danger in your home or at a friend's home simply from ordinary things like prescription drugs. To avoid substance use affecting your teen, it is essential that you monitor them appropriately while having honest conversations with them about your concerns. At Clearfork Academy, we not only treat adolescent boys and girls for alcohol addiction and substance abuse: We are also a resource for information on how to protect your teens. This includes recognizing the signs of a possible drug problem, as well as providing information to keep parents informed about the current drug scene. If you think your teen may have a problem with alcohol or other dangerous substances, it is vital that you connect them with treatment resources as soon as possible. To learn about our treatment programs, call (817) 259-2597.