Prescription drug abuse is on the rise with around 53 million people, including children over age 12, abusing prescription drugs at least once. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), at least 1 in 12 high school seniors admitted to using the pain medication Vicodin for recreation in 2010. There are also some reports of teens abusing prescription drugs like pain pills or anti-anxiety pills when faced with emotional hardships. As such, experts assert that abusing these drugs is leading towards an increased risk of suicide in teen boys and girls, especially if they are abusing antidepressants or stimulants.
Prescription Drugs Can Be Addictive
People tend to use prescription drugs in order to manage emotions or relieve pain, but it often backfires through unforeseen psychological hardships. Research conducted by top experts in the field of psychology prove a connection between prescription drug abuse and an increase in teen suicides across the world.
Prescription drugs are among the most commonly abused addictive substances in the United States. One in every four abusers is an adolescent and experts say they cause psychopathological effects such as depression and anxiety. These feelings can become so intense that some teenagers may feel the only way out is to commit suicide. The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveals that the severity of prescription drug abuse was a strong determinant of suicidal ideation: 23 percent of respondents who self-reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of prescription opioid use disorder within one year before the survey had considered self-destruction.
The imbalance created by prescription drugs can be difficult to treat and therefore represents a growing problem for all teenagers, even when they cease taking the substances. Researchers say it can affect their psychological reality in a negative way.
Correlation Between Prescription Drugs and Suicide
A recent study performed by Dr. Zullig and Amanda Divin from the US Department of Health Sciences, compared the connection between prescription drugs and suicide. They collected data from more than 4,000 teens from five different schools. Around 20 percent reported using one or more prescription drugs to relieve emotional distress.
When researchers compared the teenagers to their peers who do not use prescription drugs at all, the results were shocking. Users were much more likely to feel emotions connected with depression and other similar psychopathological conditions. The users also reported feeling hopeless and alone every day and many of them even reported that they contemplated suicide.
The study also found that since teenagers undergo many changes both socially and psychologically, prescription drugs represent a way to dull out the least comfortable of those. In addition, the study shows teenagers turn toward substance abuse without the awareness of multiple negative effects that can haunt them for years to come. The most common drugs abused by adolescents include painkillers like oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin).
This study not only exposes the facts about this problem, but shines a light on the entire generation who endangers their lives through prescription drug abuse. Steven Klee, Brookdale Hospital’s chief psychologist, commented on these findings by saying:
“The admitted numbers of both NMUPD and depression/suicide are high and therefore interesting. The fact that these adolescents may not have the knowledge of resources to treat their affective symptoms is worth noting. I would think that the best recommendations from this study would be for clinicians to do a better job screening for NMUPD and for depression/suicidal behaviors in all adolescents referred for treatment and to somehow increase screenings in schools to try and catch those students who are troubled, but not yet referred for treatment.”
Klee also mentions that in addition to teens self-medicating for depression or anxiety, some are even abusing prescription drugs as part of the youth culture scene with various parties and gatherings having plenty of pills to choose from for what is perceived as “recreational fun.”
Regardless of the reason for the substance abuse, it is important for parents and healthcare clinicians to screen youth that are coming in for prescription medication. Ask them the tough questions like, “Are you addicted?” or “How are you really doing emotionally? Do you ever think about suicide?” Then, readily be able to offer rehabilitative and psychological help for those that need it.
Dominica Applegate is dedicated to the art of self-discovery and creative expression with a passion for creative art. She’s got a deep-rooted passion for helping others heal emotional pain and trauma, as her own journey through love addiction has served as a catalyst for her own healing and beautiful transformation. Find out more at www.dominicaapplegate.com.