Drugs temptation: The new trend with teens

Drug use has become the new normal with teenagers, and they become more accessible than ever



Orally dissolved tablets that can be used to improve mental health or for illegal use (Canva)

Sofia Youngs, Editor

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — It is not cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines that are the fastest-growing drugs in the US. Teenagers’ futures are being severely impacted by pharmaceutical medicines.

Prescription drug misuse and abuse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse occurs when a person uses a medicine improperly. Unfortunately, youth prescription medication usage and abuse is a serious issue. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health on teenagers and young adults show that, in 2014, more than 5,700 kids reported taking prescription painkillers for the first time without a doctor’s prescription.

“[The drugs] made me feel numb and gave me a muggy feeling,” Jonas Corliss, a senior formally on Lexapro for his depression, said. One prevalent misconception is that prescription medications are less dangerous or unsafe for the body than other types of medications. However, the misuse of each class of prescription medication has a variety of short- and long-term health effects. In addition to having similar side effects to cocaine, stimulants can also cause psychosis, dangerously high body temperatures, and irregular heartbeats, particularly when taken in high amounts or in unconventional methods.

“I think it should be talked about more,” Shree Balaji, a student, said via Instagram. These consequences may be especially harmful to a teenager’s developing body and brain. The human brain continues to expand until we are in our early to mid-20s. During adolescence, the pre-frontal cortex continues to develop, helping us to organize our ideas, make plans of action, split our attention, and manage our impulses. The outer layer of the brain also grows rapidly, allowing us to better absorb abstract knowledge and grasp societal norms, laws, and standards. Drug use has an impact on perception, a skill that teenagers work hard to achieve, and can harm neural circuits that are still growing.

“I feel like drugs are something people turn to as a last resort when things aren’t going well,” Ali Lovesher, a student, said.  Addiction and drug misuse can be avoided. Drug prevention programs that incorporate families, schools, communities, and the media may be effective. These programs include outreach and education to help people understand the consequences of drug use. Proper communication, drug education, and surrounding oneself with drug-free associates can all aid in the prevention of harmful drug use.