Thrive Treatment knows that drug use among teens has been on the rise for many years. One concerning fact is the heavy increase in prescription drug use rates among teens. According to the CDC, 14% of students reported misusing prescription opioids. They also found that in 2015, 27% of teens aged 12-19 had used one or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days. While using prescription drugs is not a disorder on its own, it can become harmful when the drugs are abused or misused. Abuse and misuse of prescription drugs mean taking them if they weren’t prescribed to you or taking them differently than prescribed, or to get high. 

Why Are Prescription Drugs Abused By Teens?

You may be wondering why your teen would start abusing prescription drugs. Here are some common reasons that teens start abusing them: 

  1. Poor mental health – Many teens turn to prescription use because of mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety. They may not be receiving the mental health care they need or may struggle to escape their problems by turning to drug use. 
  2. Boredom – Teens who become bored are looking for something to do that may peak their interest. Because of ease of access and lack of knowledge of the side effects of prescription drugs, teens are likely to experiment with them if their time is not occupied with other activities. 
  3. Ease of access – Most teens who use prescription drugs get them free from a relative or friend. Other teens may buy them from a relative or friend, abuse them after getting them from a doctor, or get them from a drug dealer. 
  4. Lack of knowledge – Many teens will use prescription drugs with the misunderstanding that there are not any adverse side effects. They believe that because doctors prescribe it, it should be safe. However, prescriptions can have many long-term and short-term negative health side effects.
  5. Peer pressure – If teens have friends abusing prescription drugs, they are likely to be exposed to them. If your teen is easily influenced by peer pressure, they are more likely to use prescription drugs if their friends do. 
  6. Environment – Teens who have parents with drug use issues are also likely to abuse prescription drugs. They may be modeling parent behaviors

Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse in Teens

You can only know for certain if your teen is using drugs if they test positive on a drug screen or if you catch them in the act. You’re likely to notice other signs of drug use before these two, so it’s important to always be on the lookout for changes in behavior and appearance in your teen. Here are some signs to look out for

  • Frequently changing friends, especially when you don’t know the friends and disapprove of them. 
  • Decreased participation in activities that they used to enjoy or withdrawing from social circles. This can include quitting sports teams or clubs they used to enjoy, staying in their bedrooms more often, not talking to family members, not going out on outings with family members, and more. 
  • Breaking the rules, such as curfew, and coming up with fabricated explanations for this behavior. 
  • Unusual aggressive outbursts. It may feel like walking on eggshells around them because they are unusually irritable. 
  • Confronting them about possible substance use is met with an angry reaction. 
  • Their grades start to slip noticeably, and they start skipping class or entire schooldays. 
  • Mood swings
  • Bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, or pinpoint pupils. 
  • A general lack of motivation affecting their school behavior, hygiene, and household chores. 
  • Uncharacteristic behavior, such as stealing, lying, or disrespect for authority figures.

Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment in Santa Monica, CA
If you suspect that your teen is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. It is never too soon nor too late to seek help for your teen. Having a professional objectively assess your teen’s needs is necessary to deem if they are struggling with addiction and what treatment options may best suit their needs. Thrive Treatment has many treatment options available, including partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, outpatient, and sober living homes. Contact us today to schedule an assessment for your teen!

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