Quick reference for parents on the 5 popular prescription drugs that teens are abusing.
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The problem: Teens popping more pills than past generations. Pain relievers are currently the most abused type of prescription drugs by 12-17-year-olds,
followed by stimulants, tranquilizers and sedatives. (NSDUH, 2006) Pill parties are becoming more prevalent in communities, and teens are raiding the family medicine cabinet to score their stash. When the supply runs dry, kids turn to heroin.
Vicodin: Vicodin contains a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is in a group of drugs called narcotic pain relievers. Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of hydrocodone. Vicodin is used to relieve moderate to severe pain.
Past-year use of Vicodin is high among 8th, 10th and 12th graders, with nearly one in 10 high school seniors using it in the past year. (MTF, 2006)
Oxycodone is a narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine. Oxycodone is used to treat moderate to severe pain. The extended-release form of this medication is for around-the-clock treatment of pain. Oxycodone may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide. Teens typically break up the pills to eliminate the time-release effects.
In 2006, past-year abuse of OxyContin among 8th graders exactly doubled—increasing 100 percent over the last four years (from 1.3% in 2002 to 2.6% in 2006). In 10th graders, past-year abuse of OxyContin increased by 26 percent (from 3.0% in 2002, to 3.8% in 2006). (MTF, 2006)
Alprazolam belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. It works by slowing down the movement of chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced. This results in a reduction in nervous tension (anxiety). Alprazolam is used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and anxiety caused by depression. This is Xanax.
Alprazolam overdosing can result in symptoms like confusion, coma, impaired coordination, sleepiness and impaired reaction time. Especially when combined with alcohol, Alprazolam can be fatal. Alprazolam may encourage suicidal thoughts.
Lorazepam is in a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. It affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause anxiety. Lorazepam is used to treat anxiety disorders.
However, used chronically, benzodiazepines can be addicting. These agents are often taken in combination with other drugs of abuse by patients with addiction disorders.
Percocet contains a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. Oxycodone is in a group of drugs called narcotic pain relievers. Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of oxycodone. Percocet is used to relieve moderate to severe pain.
Percocet is physically and emotionally addictive. Percocet acts as a block to pain receptors in the brain, which results in a feeling of euphoria. Over time, a patient will build up a tolerance to the medication. Addiction occurs from patients attempting and failing to recreate that feeling. When the prescribed amount no longer produces the desired feeling, patients begin ingesting larger quantities of the medications.
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