If You’re Worried About Your Teen Abusing Illegal Drugs, You’re Missing the Big Picture

Prescription medicine being poured into hands

What worries you most about parenting a teenager? If the thought of your teen experimenting with illegal drugs is what’s keeping you up at night, keep in mind that the real danger may be closer than you think.

According to a new study in Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, abuse of prescription drugs such as Oxycontin now kills more people than heroin and cocaine use combined. Part of the reason for the rise in deaths related to prescription drug abuse is that many young people are unaware of the dangers posed by legally prescribed drugs.

The study surveyed teens across the United States, asking them to complete a web-based questionnaire about their use of substances such as alcohol and tobacco, as well as both legal and illegal drugs. Overall, the study found that prescription drug use increased in proportion to anxiety levels and accelerated exponentially when the desire to be popular was at its highest.

Teens mistakenly assume that because prescription medications can be obtained from a doctor, they’re a safer alternative to experimenting with illegal substances. They fail to realize that drugs like Oxycontin come with powerful side effects when they are misused.

There’s no magic trick for helping your teen make it to adulthood unscathed, but it pays to be vigilant. Keep any medications you’ve been prescribed in an area only accessible to you and confront your teen immediately if you notice signs of any suspicious behavior that could indicate a problem with drug abuse.