Young people are gravitating towards Rx drugs because they are easy to access and they feel these drugs are safer than illegal drugs. In fact, opioids are as addictive as heroin and cocaine.
Most kids get prescription drugs from someone they know. According to research, 53% of persons 12 and older who abuse pain relievers get them for free from a parent or relative. Another 14.6% buy or take them from friends or relatives. Of course, sometimes they buy them from strangers, and more savvy kids are buying them via the internet, from pharmacy websites.
The best precaution is to talk to your child about the dangers of using drugs that aren’t prescribed for them and using those prescription drugs that are prescribed in the correct dosage. You should store your prescription medications in a safe place at home, where your kids and their friends can’t find them. (And remember—kids can find just about anything they put their minds to!) You can usually find a combination safe for less than $40. Throw out unused and old medication. Be sure to encourage your relatives and family friends to do the same.
* Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, last referenced 10/29/07.
Opioids are most commonly prescribed for pain. These include Oxycodone (Percocet, Percodan, or OxyContin), Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet, Dolorex, Forten, and Anexsia) and Hydromorphone ( Dilaudid and Palladone). As mentioned above, opioids are extremely addictive.
- Low blood pressure
- Decreased breathing rate
- Poor coordination
- Cardiac problems
- Withdrawal symptoms include watery eyes, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, restlessness and severe depression
Amphetamines are stimulants that come in pills or tablets, and can be ingested or snorted. They are often prescribed as diet pills, as they accelerate functions in the brain and body. They’re also known as speed, dexies, uppers and bennies.
- Increased heart rate and breathing.
- Elevated blood pressure.
- Sweating, shaking, headaches, blurred vision, sleeplessness.
- Diarrhea (with long-term use).
- Initially creates a “fast” high. Users feel powerful, alert and energized.
- Prolonged use can cause hallucinations and intense paranoia.
- Very psychologically addictive.
- Withdrawal symptoms include aggression, anxiety and intense drug cravings.
Stimulants are drugs that enhance brain activity. They include Adderall, Dexadrine and Ritalin. They are traditionally used to treat narcolepsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and short-term treatment of obesity. Abusers swallow them or inject them.
- Increased alertness, attention and energy.
- False sense of euphoria.
- Racing heartbeat.
- Quicker breathing.
- High doses can lead to feelings of hostility or paranoia.
- Increases blood pressure and heart rate.
- Constricts blood vessels.
- Increases blood glucose.
- Increases breathing.
- Heart attacks and seizures.
- Dangerously high body temperatures.
Some over-the-counter cough and cold medicines contain the ingredient Dextromethorphan, which is also known as DMX. If taken in large quantities, these over-the-counter medicines can cause hallucinations, loss of motor control and disassociative or “out of body” experiences. They are also known as candy, C-C-C, drex, DM, red devils, triple C, robo, rojo, skittles, tussin, vitamin D and velvet.
- Impaired judgment and mental functioning.
- Loss of coordination and dizziness.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Hot flashes.
- Numbness of fingers and toes.
- Dry, itchy skin.
- Mood swings and changes in normal habits or appearance.
- Dangerous reactions with other medications or alcohol.
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
- Permanent liver or brain damage.
Nembutal, Valium, Mebaral, Quaaludes and Xanax are just a few of the depressants kids are using. They’re used to treat anxiety, tension, panic attacks and sleep disorders. They slow down brain activity, resulting in a drowsy or claming effect. They are pills that are swallowed or injected.
- Slurred speech.
- Shallow breathing.
- Sluggishness and fatigue.
- Disorientation and lack or coordination.
- Dilated pupils.
- Higher doses cause memory impairments, irritability and paranoid and suicidal ideation.
- Can slow breathing.
- Can slow heart and respiration, leading to death.
- Highly addictive.
- Withdrawal symptoms.
- Use can lead to seizures.