Drug Abuse in Adolescents

It is a problem that has been around for decades. Adolescents feel stress from personal or family problems, high expectations at school, and peer pressure. One way teens deal with the pressure is to turn to drugs. In the past it was marijuana, LSD, heroin or cocaine that lead curious teens to try drugs. There are countless stories of teens who have suffered severe consequences because of abuse of drugs such as these. Brain damage, seizures, toxicity, and death are only some of the side effects of drug abuse.

With all the anti-drug campaigns in communities today, it seems that teens may be getting the point about the dangers of some of these “street drugs” and are actually turning away from them in some cases.

Prescription Drugs

Today, however there are many more drugs available to teens, and different drugs of choice are making their way into schools and homes. Prescription painkillers like oxycodone and Vicodin® have been used more and more by adolescents in recent years. Many teens today believe there is nothing wrong with prescription drugs when taken once and while for fun, yet statistics show that oxycodone and Vicodin® are the most common drugs involved in fatal overdoses by young people.

The risk with these drugs is that young people do not believe they are dangerous or illegal because they are prescribed by a doctor. Another danger with these prescription drugs is that teens are able to get them for a very low cost or even free from friends or relatives. The easy accessibility of these drugs leads to a higher number of teens getting their hands on them, simply stealing the pills from their parents’ medicine cabinet.

Drugs such as oxycodone and Vicodin®, when used under the supervision of a physician, can be very beneficial to patients. On the other hand, the abuse of these drugs can cause strokes, seizures, comas, addiction, and even death. These prescription drugs can be just as addictive as street drugs, and the effects can be serious on the bodies and minds of young, developing teens.


Even though the problem seems staggering, there are ways for parents to help prevent the misuse of drugs in their homes. Parents need to keep track of their prescription drugs, and be aware that their children may be able to get drugs from family members or friends very easily. Parents should talk with their children about the use of medication, and alert them to the severity of abusing prescription drugs.

While it seems that many anti-drug campaigns have been beneficial in the past, funding is becoming an issue when it comes to teen drug prevention. Every year, Congress gives money to states for drug treatment prevention, allowing the states to divide up the money among some of the programs they wish. A recent trend shows many states often spend very little of the money on adolescent drug prevention. With the new problem of prescription drug abuse in teens, it seems it is important that organizations that educate teens on prevention and treat teen addicts would receive funding to continue to fight this national problem.

Unsure where to start? Take Our Substance Abuse Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.