New research suggests that, though illegal drug use is declining among children and young adults, they are abusing prescription drugs, especially pain relievers, at an increasing rate. Commonly abused prescription drugs include codeine, methadone, oxycodone, and Ritalin. The analysis of data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that almost 3 million adolescents and about 7 million young adults from ages 18 to 25 had used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes at least once in their lives. Researchers also found that pain relievers are among the most abused prescription drugs, while use of stimulants and tranquilizers were also rising.
Researchers claim that young people who abused prescription drugs were also more likely to use illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, or hallucinogens. They added that once one gets caught in the pattern of abuse, it doesn't matter much, whether it is legal or illegal drugs that one is abusing. Researchers said that many abuse prescription drugs on the misunderstanding that they are safe, when in fact they can cause addiction and severe side effects. Opiate-based pain relievers are quite addictive and can slow breathing to potentially deadly slow levels.
H. Westley Clark, Director of the substance abuse treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration concluded that parents should take care to dispose of any unused prescription drugs and should also warn their children of the side effects and addictive nature of prescription pain relievers and other prescription drugs.