Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem in the United States. A report from last month indicated that the abuse of prescription drugs is now at an epidemic level, due to the fact that clinicians treat pain differently now than they use to, and a different study from last year demonstrated that prescription drug abuse is associated with people's access to the internet and the increasing number of online pharmacies.
The current finding came from research conducted by Richard Miech, Ph.D. of the University of Colorado in Denver, and his colleagues and was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
The second most abused drugs by American teens are prescription painkillers, with marijuana being the most common. There are 10 times more adolescents (ages 12 to 17) using prescription painkillers in today's world than there were in the 1960s.
"I think many parents just don't realize how dangerous unsecured prescription drugs are to their children and their children's friends," explained Miech.
The experts examined data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 1985 to 2009 in order to determine the incidence of recreational painkiller use among all races, age groups, and genders.
Analysis showed that painkiller use was 40% greater among adolescents born between 1980 and 1994 than all other age groups born before them. Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics, as well as both males and females, experienced this trend.
"The fact that the trend is present across all racial and ethnic groups [just] highlights that this is a problem that affects everyone," Miech revealed.
Since prescription painkillers are becoming more and more available in the medicine cabinets in people's houses, the authors believe that the availability of these drugs is partly to blame for this epidemic. In order to increase parents' knowledge of this situation, more intervention is crucial.
There are many things parents can do so that these drugs are not so accessible to their kids, Ruth Gassman, Ph.D., executive director of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center in the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, said.
"For instance, parents should keep track of the quantity of pills in a bottle and the frequency of refills. If you discover that you have to refill medication more often than anticipated, this may be a sign that someone is taking these medications without your knowledge."
Gassman pointed out that parents need to set rules for their kids to follow, which they need to follow as well. Those rules include: never share medicine and never take a bigger dosage than recommended by a doctor.
"Ultimately I think we need to change attitudes toward prescription drugs and, hence, their demand. It's not an easy thing to do, but not doing it looks to be quite costly in terms of lost lives and productivity."
Written by Sarah Glynn