Teenage Dopers On The Rise
Prescription drug abuse in the United States has nearly doubled in the past decade, according to recent report. The rise in abuse among teenagers has caused significant alarm, soaring 212% between 1992 and 2003.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University reported that the number of patients abusing prescription drugs skyrocketed from 7.8 million to 15.1 million, with the 12- to 17-year-old population showing the most significant jump. Among adults, abuse rose 81%.
New opioid abuser grew the most overall, jumping 225%, followed by new stimulant abusers at 170%, new tranquilizer abusers at 150%, and new sedative abusers at 125%.
Prescription drug abuse is outpacing cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants and heroin abuse among teens.
Funded by a $1 million grant from OxyContin producer, Purdue Pharma, the study partly relied on participants self-reporting their behaviors in the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Joseph A. Califano, Jr., chairman of CASA and former US secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, believes the rise in teenage abuse is due to too much easy access.
“Availability is the mother of abuse,” said Califano. “When I was young my parents would lock their liquor cabinet. It may be parents should be thinking of locking their medicine cabinets.”
According to the report, teenagers hold “pharming parties” where drugs lifted from parents’ supplies, bought from dealers, or ordered online are traded among the participants.
Califano said Internet pharmacy laws are needed. He admits, though, that regulating them would be difficult, especially since seven Congressional attempts since 2004 have failed.
Other problems stem from OTC medication abuse. Methamphetamines are manufactured from common antihistamines. Cough medicines, such as Robotussin, are often abused by teens for “robo-tripping” where drinking huge quantities of the suppressant will lead to hallucinations.
Drugstore chains have already begun battling these problems by pulling them behind the counter and/or only selling the drugs to adults in limited quantities.
The study cited three prescription drugs as the most popular abused substances.
“Controlled prescription drugs like OxyContin, Ritalin, and Valium are now the fourth most abused substance [sic] in America behind only marijuana, alcohol and tobacco,” said the report.