A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), reports that one out of ten high school students misuse prescription drugs. Of those students, almost half of them said that they used multiple supply sources to obtain prescription drugs. Furthermore, three out of four of those students receiving prescription drugs from various supply sources had a substance use disorder diagnosis involving other drugs or alcohol. Consequently, the national average of adolescents with a substance use disorder is 5%.

Multiple Supply Sources for Prescription Drugs

The study found that those adolescents using multiple supply sources to obtain prescription drugs were at higher risks for utilizing other substances and developing substance use disorders. For example, out of one-third of those adolescents misusing prescription drugs, girls are more likely to take their leftover medication than boys. Conversely, boys are more likely to obtain prescription drugs by purchasing them or getting them from friends. Concerningly, the most common sources for these prescription drugs among adolescents are free from friends and relatives. Physicians are the most common source for opioids through prescriptions, and stimulants or tranquilizers are obtained illegally.

The Risks to Teens

Another study published by NCBI found that adolescent teens misusing prescription opioids are more likely to start using heroin before graduating high school. This concerning relationship is evidenced by the fact that heroin and prescription opioids activate the brain’s pleasure circuits in similar ways. In the study, almost 600 out of the 3,300 students reported using prescription opioids to get high during the first three years of high school. The study says that 13% of current prescription opioid users and almost 11% of previous prescription opioid users proceeded to use heroin before the end of high school. Conversely, less than 2% of adolescents who did not use prescription opioids proceeded to use heroin before the end of high school. Therefore, teens that enjoy the high of prescription opioids may be motivated to seek out other euphoria-producing drugs, such as heroin.

Need Help?

Adolescents are at an increased risk of developing substance use disorders. There are multiple supply sources for obtaining prescription drugs, as cited by adolescents themselves in various studies. As prescription drug use increases, so does prescription drug misuse, and therefore so do substance use disorders. Recovery is possible, and there is hope. At Fort Worth Recovery, we offer a nurturing space to support clients on their road to recovery in our female-only adolescent treatment program. We seek to inspire young women to face their challenges and foster hope for their future. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, call us today at 844.332.1807 or visit us online.


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