Many teens who use abuse prescription drugs are not trying to get high, but are using them to help them deal with an underlying problem such as anxiety, a newly published survey suggests.
“We think of teens as using drugs to party and to experiment,” says study co-author Barbara Delaney. “But because prescription drugs are designed to help with physical or emotional conditions, many teenagers are using them to help them with a specific problem, such as lessening anxiety, staying awake to study, or losing weight.”
The findings suggest the need for parents to understand physical or emotional problems their teen may be facing, which need to be addressed. “It’s not enough to simply tell them not to use drugs,” says Delaney, former Director of Research at the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “Parents need to understand what’s going on in their teens’ minds—what kind of stresses they feel.”