Misuse of Prescription Drugs
More American children are being treated with psychiatric drugs such as Prozac, Ritalin and Risperdal than in the past. According to a new study, the number of children taking such drugs has tripled from 1987 to 1996 and continued to increase through 2000.(drugs.com)
The increase may be indicative of better diagnosis of mental illness in children, however, researchers voiced concern that drug-company marketing, cost-saving efforts by insurance companies and increased demands on parents and physicians may be fueling the urge to prescribe medication. (drugs.com)
Although most psychiatrists say that a treatment plan including both medication and psychotherapy is most effective, psychotherapy is more expensive in the short-term than medication. Therefore, insurance companies stand to increase their profits by promoting medication over therapy (Mercola).
Prescription drug abuse is the use of prescription medication in a manner that is not prescribed by a health care practitioner. This includes using someone else’s prescription or using your own prescription in a way not directed by your doctor. Most people take prescription medication responsibly under a doctor’s care. However, there has been a steady increase in the non-medical use of these medications, especially by teenagers. Prescription drug abuse knows no boundaries; it occurs in all social, economic, geographic, and ethnic groups. Kids as young as 12 are trying prescription drugs to get high. Prescription drugs are often more easily available to children than illicit drugs like marijuana because they can be stolen from the medicine cabinet at home, rather than having to be bought on the streets. An added danger of abusing prescription drugs is that teens consider them safer than street drugs because they are manufactured by a pharmaceutical company. Although any prescription drug can be abused, the three types of drugs that are most commonly abused are:
- Pain Killers, also known as narcotic or opiates. Examples include morphine, codeine, OxyContin (oxycodone), Vicodin (hydrocodone) and Demerol (meperidine). A large single dose can cause severe respiratory depression and death. Long-term abuse leads to physical dependence and, in some cases, addiction.
- Depressants, which are prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Examples are Nembutal (pentobarbital sodium), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam). They slow down normal brain function and can cause a drowsy, uncoordinated feeling. Large doses can depress breathing and cause a coma. Long-term abuse can lead to physical dependence and addiction.
- Stimulants are often prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Examples include Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine). These drugs elevate blood pressure and heart rate. High doses can cause dangerously high body temperature and cardiac arrest brought on by an abnormal heartbeat.(drugs.com)
OTC drugs are also abused by teens. Some OTC products used medically to treat allergies and colds contain drugs that can cause serious harm if abused in large doses for non-medical purposes. Cough syrups can be equally dangerous when teens drink them to get high. Painkillers are the most commonly abused by teens, especially by younger teens. Stimulant abuse is more common among older teens and college …