prescription drugs

Using powerful medications during the teen years can interfere with important brain development and may rewire the brain for addiction.

Not only are teens at greater risk of becoming addicted to prescription medications, but any misuse of prescription drugs also increases the risk of using and becoming dependent on other addictive substances.

Boys and girls tend to misuse prescription drugs for different reasons. Boys are more likely to take stimulants to get high, while girls try to make up for lack of sleep or to lose weight. Some young people may take prescription drugs to self-medicate when symptoms of depression or anxiety have gone untreated.

Boys are more likely to take stimulants to get high, while girls try to make up for lack of sleep or to lose weight.

Why do teens misusE prescription drugs?

Teens use prescription drugs for a number of reasons, such as pain relief from an injury, to deal with the pressures of life, because they like the way it makes them feel, or because they think it will help them with schoolwork. In fact, one in four teenagers believe that prescription drugs can be used as a study aid.

health risks of
prescription drugs

OPIOIDS – Vicodin, OxyContin, or codeine are prescribed to relieve pain and can cause drowsiness, nausea, and constipation. In 2016, one in five deaths among young people were related to opioids.

DEPRESSANTS – Valium or Xanax are prescribed to relieve anxiety or help with sleep. They can cause slurred speech, fatigue, low blood pressure, disorientation, lack of coordination, and seizures.

STIMULANTS – Adderall and Ritalin are prescribed for treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They have side effects in common with cocaine use, such as paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, and an irregular heartbeat. High doses can cause heart failure and seizures.


I don’t know why we’re even having this talk.
This may not be a temptation for you now, but you may encounter someone offering you something that is harmful for your body down the road. If and when that happens, I want you to feel well equipped with the facts – for yourself or if you ever need to help a friend.
What’s the big deal?
As a teen, your brain is enormously flexible, learns rapidly, and contains more neurons than an adult brain. That’s why the teen brain can more quickly become addicted to medication or other drugs. 
You don’t understand. I am under a lot of stress right now.
I hear you are feeling very overwhelmed, but I don’t want you making choices that can hurt you. I want you to be able to cope with life’s ups and downs in a healthy way. If you are under a lot of stress, then let’s brainstorm some ideas on how to reduce your stress. If you think it would be helpful, we can speak with a professional for more guidance.
Everyone does it. It helps with my anxiety.
These drugs are very addictive because they produce a flood of dopamine – the brain’s “feel-good” messenger. When someone uses drugs to artificially raise their dopamine levels, it damages the brain’s ability to produce it naturally, and it becomes much harder to feel good without the drug. This is one of the things that makes it very hard to stop using drugs. That’s why it’s important that these types of drugs be taken under a doctor’s care, so that they can properly diagnose and prescribe the correct dosage.
Kids at school are using Adderall to get better grades.

I am proud of your hard work and that you earned your grades without relying on stimulants. I understand that there is a lot of pressure to do well. But using a drug to do better on tests (or sports) is cheating and research has shown it is actually tied to getting lower grades. And there are some serious side effects of misusing stimulants. How about we explore other relaxation and time management skills to help you?