Tips for Parents
Prescription Meds: Illegal Use During Finals Time
About 15.2 million Americans aged 12 and older had taken a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant or sedative for non-medical purposes at least once when surveyed in 2008, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Included in that number are college students who are "pharming" — or taking prescription meds illegally — for purposes such as staying awake longer, being able to pull all-nighters, self-medicating for anxiety or depression, enhancing their sports stamina or ramping up to enjoy the "high."
Prescription drug abuse means taking a prescription medication that is not prescribed for you, or taking it for reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Commonly abused classes of prescription medications include:
- Opioids (for pain) — including drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Dilaudid, Demerol and Lomotil
- Central Nervous System Depressants (for anxiety and sleep disorders) — including barbiturates such as Nembutal, and benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax
- Stimulants (for ADHD, obesity and narcolepsy) — including drugs such as Dexedrine, Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall
Long-term use of opioids or central nervous system depressants can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Opioids can produce drowsiness, constipation and, depending on the amount taken, can depress breathing. Central nervous system depressants slow down brain function; if combined with other medications that cause drowsiness or with alcohol, heart rate and respiration can slow down dangerously. Taken repeatedly or in high doses, stimulants can cause anxiety, paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat or seizures.
This is all good to be aware of during this final push, when students may be tempted to take prescription medications illegally to pull all-nighters and study hard. It's not good for them, it's dangerous and good grades aren't worth the physical risk.
Prepared for our institution by PaperClip Communications, www.paper-clip.com.
Copyright 2006, 125 Paterson Ave., Little Falls, NJ 07424