On the morning of March 25, five female students at a high school in Frederick's County Maryland were rushed to the hospital after overdosing on prescription medications. Local officials say the students ingested a mix of ambien and Adderall supplied by another 15 year old student in their group.
The girls immediately began experiencing symptoms of severe dizziness and nausea and were rushed to Frederick Memorial Hospital after a school security guard noticed their behavior. Four of the students remained at the hospital for further monitoring before being released to their parents.
Officials say that all five of the students are doing well and are feeling alert after the incident. An investigation is underway as to how exactly the 15 year old acquired the drugs and whether any charges would be brought against her.
This latest occurrence in Maryland is undeniably shocking, but unfortunately incidents like these are becoming increasing common among high schoolers throughout the country. Prescription drug abuse among teenagers is a disturbing trend that has been growing over the last decade.Parents, school officials, and local authorities have been making efforts to understand the reasons behind the epidemic and find a way to prevent more overdoses and deaths from happening.
A growing epidemic.
There's no doubt that being a teenager is tough. With pressures mounting at school coupled with problems at home and with peers, it's all too common for many teens to turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with the stress and overwhelming emotions they experience.
Now that prescription drugs are easy to acquire from medicine cabinets at home and from friends who share their stashes, many teenagers are turning to drugs like Valium, Vicodin, Adderall, and Ambien to deaden their feelings or escape their troubles. There is also pressure in many peer groups to use prescription drugs in order to fit in.
Many teens underestimate the danger of these drugs because they are legal and prescribed by doctors. Many parents also aren't aware of the addiction nature of these drugs and leave them out in medicine cabinets and on bedside tables where teenagers can easily reach them.
Addiction experts agree that a big part of why prescription drug abuse is so common among teens (and also adults) is that they're so easy to acquire either through prescriptions or by looking around the home. Painkillers, sleep aids, and stimulants are the most commonly prescribed drugs in American and also the most addictive prescription meds.
Many teens begin by simply experimenting with the drugs or taking them for recreational purposes with friends. Unfortunately what simply begins as a fun way to party with friends or relieve stress can quickly develop into a full blown addiction.
How to recognize the signs of abuse.
Because the symptoms of abusing prescription drugs is much more obvious than the symptoms of smoking marijuana or drinking, it's much easier to notice and take action. Prescription drugs cause extreme changes in behavior, ranging from mania to extreme fatigue.
Other signs such as declining school performance, a drastic change in friends, and neglecting responsibilities are also common signs of any kind of drug abuse. If a parent suspects their teenager is abusing drugs the first thing they should do is limit access to any drugs that might be in the home.
The next step is talking to the teenager about what's going on in their life. There are treatment options available for teens who abuse prescription drugs as well in the form of in patient treatment and therapy groups. It's important to recognize the signs of drug abuse and take immediate, effective action before it's too late.