Prescription Drugs Overdoses in Teens and Young Adults
"The last text he sent to his friends was, 'I'm going to take a couple of pills and go to sleep.' He had no idea when he took those pills that he wouldn't be waking up the next morning. We found out later that he had taken the pills from a neighbor's house where they had their prescriptions just sitting out on the kitchen counter."
Angie Watson, mother of 13-year-old Conner who died as a consequences of a prescription drug misuse.
Watch the video of Angie's Story, Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Connor’s mom, Angie, warn about the consequences of prescription drugs.
An alarming number of teenagers are more likely to have abused prescription and over-the-counter drugs than some illegal drugs.
- In 2015, 2.9% of Utah youth in grades 8, 10, and 12 reported that they had used a prescription drug not prescribed to them by a doctor within the past 30 days (1).
- In 2015, 10th and 12th grade students were significatnly more likely than 8th grade students to report using prescription drugs not prescribed to them within the past 30 days (1).
- Among Utah local health districts, TriCounty had a significant increase in students who reported prescription drug misue from 2013 to 2015. Southeast students reported the highest rate of prescription drug misue (3.6%) followed by Weber-Morgan (3.5%) (1).
- Nationally, 1 in 6 parents believe that using prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs. More than 1 in 4 teens (27%) share the same belief (2).
- Almost half (47%) of teens reported that it is easy to get prescription drugs from a parent’s medicine cabinet (2).
- Teens are abusing everything from pain medicines to stimulants, sedatives, and tranquilizers (3).
Teens that had learned about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs from their parents or grandparents were 42% less likely to abuse prescription drugs than teens that did not talk to their parents or grandparents about this issue. See the parent toolkit for tips on talking to your kids!
Downtown Ogden has the2nd highest rate of prescription pain medication overdoses in Utah. To combat the rising number of overdoses in the Weber-Morgan area, officials from the Utah Department of Health, Weber Human Services, and the Weber-Morgan Health Department released a new toolkit and pocket card to help community leaders and citizens prevent these tragedies.
Why are teens abusing prescription drugs?
- Seeking psychological or physical pleasure; instant gratification
- Escape and self-medication
- Looking for acceptance and bonding with peer groups; lack of confidence
- Popular media’s portrayal of drug use
- Lack of information or misinformation about the risks of taking medicines that have not been prescribed specifically for them or the danger of not following a prescription’s directions
- Prescription drugs are easier to obtain than illegal drugs
Ways to Help Your Teen
- Speak to your teen about prescription medicines — do not presume that illegal drugs are the only threat, and remind them that taking someone else’s prescription or sharing theirs with others is illegal.
- Encourage your teen to ask you or a doctor about the negative side effects of a prescribed medicine, how to watch for them, and what to do if a negative effect is suspected.
- Alert your family physician that you are concerned and ask him or her to speak to your teen about the importance of proper use of prescription medicines.
- Keep prescription medicines in a safe place and avoid stockpiling them.
- Promptly and properly dispose of any unused prescription medicines.
- Provide a safe and open environment for your teen to talk about abuse issues.
- Monitor your teen’s use of the Internet, especially for any illegal online purchases.