Have You Heard the News




There are disturbing new statistics about teenage drug abuse out there, numbers that show a new way of thinking about getting high by a new generation. 


"'Generation Rx' has arrived," said Roy Bostock, chairman of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, in a story for the New York Post. 


In its new study, the group surveyed 7,300 teenagers, the largest such sampling of attitudes toward drugs in the nation.  The findings: One in five teens has used prescription drugs as their method of choice for altering their consciousness. 


And, most of these teens are getting their fixes from the medicine cabinets of their parents.  As a society, either we are taking more of these medications or teens are getting savvier about their potential misuses. 


The survey found one in 10 teen drug users admitted recreational use of OxyContin, Ritalin, or Adderall.  The latter two drugs are used commonly for treatment of attention-deficit disorder. 


One in 11 admitted to a somewhat more common trick: Using over-the-counter medication like some cough syrups to catch a buzz, according to the survey. 


The most popular target of misuse: Vicodin, a potent painkiller. 


We live in a world of designer drugs like Ecstasy that exist hand in hand with old standbys like marijuana and LSD, and crack, the main scourge of a decade or so past.  There's alcohol.  Add to that the OTC and prescription-drug trade, and those who seek to foster a high have a buffet of options almost all of them potentially deadly. 


Ease of access was cited by the survey as one of the chief reasons for teens' choice of their drug use. 


This must act as a wake-up call to parents.  This is not something the government can control any more tightly than is already being done.  If these prescriptions are written for a specific purpose, then the individual using the medication should be in a position to know if some of it goes missing.  If they're not sure, they'd best find a way to be sure.  Limiting access is the first key.  The second lies in making sure the prescriptions are being used properly that they aren't written as a convenience by doctors for patients who feel they need a particular medication because they saw it hyped on TV or because it worked in the case of a friend. 


Americans have a tendency to overuse medication.  We see it most plainly in the cavalier way we use antibiotics.  The inappropriate use of these potent substances has led to drug-resistant bacteria and the potential for far more problems in the future.  It's not much of a stretch to imagine that other medications, for whatever reason, are being used inappropriately. 


The survey noted dropping rates in the use of marijuana, Ecstasy and other drugs, so we're not just doom-and-glooming here.  But the survey shows that there are reasons behind teens' use of prescription drugs, and where there are identifiable reasons, there are solutions. 


It's time we started prescribing those solutions, for the health of our kids.