INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Prescription drug abuse is growing among Indiana teenagers. New numbers from the Indiana Youth Institute say the number of teens who have abused prescription drugs nearly doubled in 2014. In 2013, 6.9 percent of high school seniors had tried the drugs, and in 2014 that number jumped to 13.5 percent.
The report shows teens as young as 13 years old are abusing drugs. Sometimes it’s easier for kids to access drugs like Vicodin, Adderall or Xanax than it is to get alcohol, because the drugs are just sitting in the medicine cabinet at home. Parents and children are often prescribed the drugs for legitimate medical reasons, but then kids can sneak them to get high.
Indiana Youth Institute told 24-Hour News 8 teens learn what drugs their friends or friends’ parents are taking and then trade or sell them them to each other. That’s why experts say it’s important to keep track of your drugs and know exactly when you are due for a refill.
“Make sure you’re keeping tabs on them, the number of them, when your children’s prescriptions or your prescriptions should run out and be ready for a refill. If you suddenly find your child coming to (you) repeatedly and saying, ‘Hey I lost some of my pills’ or ‘I need a refill’ that may be a sign that your children are abusing those drugs,” said Glenn Augustine with the Indiana Youth Institute.
Augustine said sometimes teens like how they feel after their normal dosage, so they experiment by taking a higher dose. Sometimes teens will keep using the drugs when they don’t need them, and that’s how addiction begins.
“What we know — at least the common knowledge — is that the human brain really doesn’t fully form until you’re 25 years old. The more you use drugs or alcohol earlier in life, the more likely this is to become a chronic usage or a chronic problem,” Augustine said.
Parents should watch for warning signs of substance abuse, such as sluggish behavior, a change in appearance or a change in friends.