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Abuse of prescribed drugs growing among teens

A Christian psychiatrist from Pennsylvania says parents need to be concerned about the rapid growth of prescription drug abuse among teenagers.

How to Talk to Teens about Really Important Things: Specific Questions and Answers and Useful Things to Say

According to Dr. Karl Benzio, what used to be barely a blip on the illicit drug radar for teens is now the second-most widely used method to get high, topped only by marijuana in prevalence. In a survey conducted last year by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, nearly 20 percent of teens admitted to taking some sort of prescription drug to get high.

Benzio believes several possible reasons may account for the growth in the popularity of prescription drug abuse among teens. "Prescription meds are legal," he notes, "and they're in their cabinets, and so [many young people] take them from their parents' cabinets. It's not like they have to go out and take a risk of buying them and getting arrested."

For that reason, Benzio says, at least in the minds of these teens, prescription drug use may seem like a "legal adventure" for them. And another thing, he notes, is that many kids believe if drugs have been prescribed, they must be relatively safe.

"Now, some kids understand that these medications are dangerous," the psychiatrist acknowledges. "But a lot of them believe that, since they're prescribed and the FDA has approved them, then they must be safe medications," he says.

Another major factor, Benzio contends, is the easy availability of prescription drugs, and young people's relatively sophisticated understanding of these medications' intended effects. "Kids can go in, and they can see all kinds of different things in the cabinet," he explains. "They're understanding and their education about pharmacology is much more advanced than [mine] as a teenager."

The Christian medical professional believes having a rudimentary understanding of the potential of various prescription medications may make many youth more likely to try these drugs. "So," he says, "knowing -- sort of -- what's in the cabinet and what that might be able to do for them, at least from their vantage point, makes a lot more impression."

Benzio says parents need to watch their medicine cabinets closely, taking special note of drugs that were prescribed after surgeries or other illnesses. Many commonly prescribed painkillers are among the most popularly abused drugs, he notes. And, the doctor emphasizes, while use of illegal drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine appears to be going down or at least leveling off, prescription drug abuse is increasing at an alarming rate.

Many teens have the idea that because certain drugs can be obtained by prescription, those drugs are clean and do not carry the same stigma as cocaine or heroin, Benzio observes. Unfortunately, he warns, prescription drug abuse can still lead young people down the same trail of self-destruction as those illicit drugs.


Christ Church on Greenland road has an excellent and well established Celebrate recovery program that is a faith based program and works at dealing with the underlying issues that lead one to want a reprieve from reality by substance abuse. They also offer codependency study groups and groups from multiple addictions not only drugs and alcohol. If you would like more information you can contact them at and they will assist you in find a celebrate recovery program in the jacksonville area.

There are also Alcoholics Anonymous(AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA)groups in the Jacksonville for support and encouragement in you journey either a person suffering from addiction or a person living with someone who is addicted. Both of the programs offer Al Anon for the family members of a person suffering from addiction.

We're only human. We can err from time to time. It's important we handle our mistakes properly if we're to enjoy long, happy, healthy lives.

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