Prescription Pills: How Dangerous Are They Really?
If you’re not concerned about the overwhelming prevalence of drug use in the United States, take note of some statistics recently released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA reports that “20.4 million people in the United States were diagnosed with SUD [substance use disorder] in the past year.” Additionally, “Nearly 71,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2019 [the most current data set from NIDA].” Despite those numbers, “Only 10.3% of people with past-year SUD received SUD treatment,” NIDA notes. Let’s absorb those numbers for a moment. Let’s also process the fact that many of those overdoses happened with something that’s sitting in our medicine cabinets: prescription pills.

There is an opioid epidemic in this country and it’s still taking a toll. According to the former United States Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, “Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a public health crisis responsible for approximately 130 overdose deaths a day.” Many of these opioids are being taken in the form of legally prescribed prescription pills. What’s more, the pills are often taken by individuals who weren’t legally prescribed them. These are often teenagers, a population that’s abusing prescription pills at an alarming rate.

There are four things to understand when it comes to prescription pill abuse and addiction. One is that these drugs are not safe. They are no safer than any other illicit street drug that is available. Two is that they are easily attainable. Even if a parent or caretaker is cautious with prescription pills in their own home, these pills have now flooded the streets and illegal markets. Three is that they are popular among teenagers because they can be cheap, easy to hide, and provide intense “highs.” And four is that prescription pill addictions are treatable. The key to treatment is getting help as soon as a potential problem is detected.

Yes, Prescription Pills Can Lead To Substance Use Disorder

People who are unaware of the dangers of prescription pill misuse tend to minimize the potential problem with them. This is because prescription pills are everywhere. For the most part, they are taken in necessary situations without harm. However, with the rise in the use of opiates as prescriptive options, the dangers are very real.

When the question arises as to whether prescription pills are as dangerous as other drugs, the answer is yes. In many instances, the answer is that they can be even more dangerous. This is because stronger synthetic opiates, such as Fentanyl, are being prescribed more and more.

The truth is that prescription pills, when they are misused, hold the same dangers as any other illicit substance. They should not be considered separate entities when considering what constitutes SUD. Thus, prescription pills should also be treated with the same recovery tools that any SUD is treated with. This is on an individualized basis of course.

The Reality of Prescription Pills Among Teens

Prescription pill abuse and addiction among teens is nothing new. There have been reports on its dangers going back almost ten years now. Back in 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was bringing light to the emerging prescription pill problem.

SAMHSA stated that “prescription drug misuse and abuse among young people is not an insignificant problem. According to National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data on youth and young adults, more than five,700 youth in 2014 reported using prescription pain relievers without a doctor’s guidance for the first time.”

Today, those numbers are significantly higher. In 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “14% of students reported misusing prescription opioids.” Sadly, some of those within that 14% are going to experience some serious consequences, including addiction and overdose. Some of those overdoses can be fatal.

Treatment Options for Long-Term Recovery

The good news is that with the increase in prescription pill use, there has been an increase in treatment and recovery options. Those treatment options are vast and varied. They include therapeutic and psychotherapeutic options such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). They also include neuroscientific options, such as neurofeedback and craniosacral therapy treatments.

Treatment options also include many holistic and experiential options. These may include yoga, breathwork, meditation, and prayer. It may also include experiential therapies like equine therapy, which can help an individual make connections and learn life skills. They can carry these skills with them as they continue their recovery journey long term. Regardless of the treatment options utilized, it is important that they are administered on an individualized and customized basis.

The truth is that prescription pills are still wreaking havoc on the adolescent community. There is a very real potential that the situation could get worse. This is why it is crucial to stay vigilant and informed on the dangers of prescription pill use. When it comes to our kids, there is nothing more important than keeping them safe.

Prescription medications can be addictive and dangerous for the adolescent population. Prescription pills have grown in popularity among teenagers because they can be easily accessible within the home. Additionally, they have become normalized and glorified in popular culture. Because they are medically “approved,” they can seem as if they are safer than illicit drugs. The fact of the matter is that prescription pills can be just as dangerous as other forms of illicit street drugs. They can be just as addictive as well. If you feel that your child may be abusing prescription medication, reach out to us today. For more information, please contact Elk Mountain Girls Academy at (888) 403-0346.