The risks for addiction increases when prescription drugs are used in ways other than as prescribed.
Teenagers are especially at risk for abusing prescription drugs.
They are more likely to obtain drugs in illegal ways. In 2012, 24% of teens surveyed said they have taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription.
Teenagers like to experiment with prescription drugs because they are usually easier to obtain than street drugs like marijuana or cocaine. Teens may experiment with medications to fit in, to be cool, they think they will be fun, they want to lose weight, or perhaps because they will help to study better.
Did you know that every day, 2,500 kids ages 12 to 17 abuse a pain reliever for the first time?
In 2008, more than 2.1 million teens ages 12 to 17 report abusing prescription drugs. Among 12 and 13 year olds, prescription drugs are the drug of choice.
That is why it is more important than ever to be on the lookout for prescription drug abuse, especially amongst teenagers. Preventing or stopping prescription drug abuse is an important part of patient care.
Physicians, their patients, and pharmacists all can play a role in identifying and preventing prescription drug abuse.
Physicians are in a unique position since they are the ones responsible for prescribing medications. They are the front lines to identify abuse of prescription drugs and prevent the escalation to addiction.
Physicians can help their patients recognize that a problem exists, set recovery goals, and seek appropriate treatment. Screening for prescription drug abuse can be incorporated into routine medical visits.
Doctors should be alert to the fact that many young patients may engage in doctor shopping — moving from doctor to doctor in an effort to obtain multiple prescriptions for the drugs they abuse.
Doctors should also take note of unscheduled refill requests, increases in the amount of medication needed, or otherwise frantic or inconsistent behavior.
Physicians are always in a tricky situation, because they cannot deny a patient of pain relievers if they are in real patient. The only thing a physician can do is recognize the warning signs, and try to make the most informed decision as possible.