Community issues: Teen prescription medication abuse |

Community issues: Teen prescription medication abuse

Tahoe Turning Point
Special to the Tribune

In 2009, 2,500 students abused prescription drugs for the first time each day, according to the Center of Disease Control. A 2007 finding of the CDC reported that opioid analgesics, the medication class oxycodone falls under, were abused more than both heroin and cocaine in unintentional drug overdoses combined, equaling one death every 19 minutes within the United States.

The two most common place teenage kids find medications are from their parents’ medication cabinets and from friends. A survey done by a partnership with concluded that one in four teens had reported using a prescription drug, not prescribed to them, at least once in their lifetime and more than one in five has used a prescription pain reliever not prescribed to them by a medical professional. When surveyed, 68.4 percent of kids in South Lake Tahoe reported abusing prescription medications that were not prescribed to them; Oxycontin and Codeine being the most abused prescription medications. According to the “Monitoring the Future” study conducted by the Survey Research Center in the Institute for Social research at the University of Michigan, “2.7 percent of eighth-graders, 7.7 percent of 10th-graders and 8 percent of 12th-graders had abused Vicodin and 2.1 percent of eighth-graders, 4.6 percent of 10th-graders and 5.1 percent of 12th-graders had abused Oxycontin for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.” According to a study conducted by, teens were 52 times more likely to report positive for cocaine than who reported using cocaine. The CDC has claimed prescription medication abuse to be a national epidemic.

Teens often believe that prescription medications are safer to use because they had been prescribed by a doctor, what is overlooked is that the both the dosage and form along with the side effects are all calculated to specifically meet the needs of the person being prescribed. Abusing medication and taking any prescriptions not prescribed to each individual poses a serious threat to any teen’s health.

When asked what a solution to this national epidemic might look like, local teens stated that parenting better judgment to the dangers and realities that prescription medications pose at a young age would prevent decisions made as teenagers. Other reported solutions consisted of encouraging physical recreation opportunities, keeping medications within the home in lock-boxes and to dispose of any unused medications.

If you notice that someone in your family may be in need of professional help in order to gain understanding or to recover from prescription medication addiction, Tahoe Turning Point provides drug and alcohol therapy for both teens and adults. Parenting classes and information packets are also available at Tahoe Turning Point. Prevention and education are the two most effective means for keeping our kids safe and sober, fighting this battle as a community will ensure the greatest outcome for success.

– For more information, contact Tahoe Turning Point at 530-541-4594.

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