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Menninger’s Five Things Parents Should Know About Teen Prescription Drugs

By on June 18, 2012 in National Health News with 0 Comments

from the Menninger Clinic Newsroom

It’s no secret that prescription drug use among teens is a problem according to the Houston based Menninger Clinic. Photo: Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink

It’s no secret that prescription drug use among teens is a problem according to the  Houston based Menninger Clinic, a nonprofit international specialty psychiatric center, providing treatment, research and education.  For evidence on has to look no further than the statistics:

  • Every day, 2,500 teenagers 12 to 17 abuse prescription pain relievers for the first time.
  • In 2008, 15.4 percent of 12th graders reported abusing prescription drugs within the past year.
  • Sixty percent of teens who abuse painkillers first tried them before age 15.
  • 13 is the mean age of first use of nonmedical use of stimulants and sedatives.

Research also indicates parents can have a positive impact on children’s attitudes toward drug use, particularly with young teens and “tweens.” These five tips can help you guide your child through the tricky teenage years:

  1. Get involved – Know who your child’s friends are and what they’re doing. Participate in their school activities. Find a volunteer activity you can do with them. “We know that a high level of parental involvement has an impact not just on a child’s educational success, but also on a child’s decision to use drugs, especially before the age of 16,” said Rick Capriola, LCDC, a licensed chemical dependency counselor with The Menninger Clinic’s Adolescent Assessment & Treatment Program.
  2. Set expectations – Tell your teen not to get involved with drugs. Defining and enforcing rules and expectations regarding drug use is a significant factor in keeping teens from using. It may not always seem like it, but your opinion matters.
  3. Store your medications in a safe place and keep track of them – Kids can get prescription drugs easily. Many, in fact, get them from family members and friends without anyone knowing. Keep in mind that 40 percent of teens think using prescription drugs—even those prescribed to someone else—is OK and safe.
  4. Look out for depression and anxiety – Most teens turn to drugs, often prescription drugs, to help them cope. “There’s a reason why almost all the teenagers I treat use these types of drugs,” Capriola said. “They experience emotions so intensely that they become intolerable, and drug abuse becomes a mechanism to ease or regulate their emotions. Teenagers are generally very good at explaining why they use.” If you think your adolescent may be depressed or anxious, consult your pediatrician or family physician.
  5. Remember your teen’s brain is still growing – Research indicates the brain does not fully mature until about age 25. During the important teen years, the adolescent brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is home to our decision-making ability, has not fully yet developed. As a result, teens are often unable to cope with their emotions or adapt to the many changes going on in their lives. That’s why they still need you to guide them in making good judgments.

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