Drugs and alcohol have been issues for teenagers for generations. What has changed, however, are the drugs of choice. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, illicit drug use has declined significantly since its peak years in 1996 and 1997. Alcohol use among teenagers since that time has also decreased, although it is still the most widely used drug among young people. Marijuana use has basically remained stable, as well as tobacco use.
What has increased is the use of prescription drugs and inhalants. These are actually two types of drug use we hear about frequently in our offices. We see kids who abuse alcohol, marijuana, and even heavier drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy. But there are also those that are a little more accessible—like in the pantry or medicine cabinet. Ritalin, Vicodin, and OxyContin are being used more prevalently among teenagers today. They even trade these drugs at "pharming" parties. These drugs are easy to get, as many teenagers take Ritalin on a daily basis or are given prescriptions for painkillers after various procedures. They are as near as the closest medicine cabinet. Teenagers also consider these drugs safer, without knowing they can cause addictions and serious side effects.
Teenagers will use over-the-counter medicines, as well. We have talked to girls who have used cough syrups and cold medicines, anything that will take them away from their problems.
The inhalants teenagers use vary from household items such as spray paint and hairspray to correction fluid and felt-tip markers. They sniff these directly from their containers, pour them onto fabric to sniff from, or spray them into bags.
Basically, if your teenage daughter is determined to get a buzz, she will use just about anything she can get her hands on, from liquor in your cabinet to cocaine she can get at school to medicines in her bathroom at home.
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