More Youths Abuse Painkillers
Talking with your child about drug abuse is important. It helps to keep him or her healthy. But did you know you should cover prescription painkillers in that chat? A new study points to why.
Researchers reviewed data from the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health. They found that young Americans are abusing prescribed painkillers more now than in the past. In fact, such drug abuse is 40 percent higher than in previous generations. The most common culprits? Vicodin and valium. They are now the second most frequently abused drugs after marijuana.
One of the main reasons for this increase is ease of access. Many young people in the U.S. can easily find prescribed painkillers in their homes. For example, researchers found that prescriptions for hydrocodone and oxycodone jumped from 40 million in 1991 to 180 million in 2007.
"Most people know the dangers of leaving a loaded gun lying around the house," says study author Richard Miech, Ph.D., at the University of Colorado in Denver. "What few people realize is that far more people die as a result of unsecured prescription drugs."
One statistic that should get parents talking is related to overdoses. Over nearly two decades, researchers found a threefold increase in deaths of people who take too much of a prescription painkiller. Dr. Miech adds that more people die today from accidental overdoses of such drugs than from too much cocaine and heroin combined.
Researchers also noted the following about prescribed painkillers:
- Emergency department visits from these drugs increased by 129 percent between 2004 and 2009.
- The number of people looking for addiction treatment for these types of drugs jumped by more than 500 percent from 1997 to 2007.
The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.