New Study Reveals Link Between Prescription Medicines and Teen Drug Abuse

psychaddbehTeens prescribed anti-anxiety or sleep medication are more likely to abuse prescription drugs than those who had never been prescribed such medication.

The University of Michigan study examined prescription drug abuse among secondary school students, comparing findings for teens prescribed anxiolytic or sleep medications versus those who had never been prescribed such drugs. The results showed that adolescents who were given anti-anxiety or sleep medications during the study period were 10 times more likely to engage in recreational use of others’ prescriptions, while those who had been prescribed the drugs prior to the study were 12 times more likely to do so.

The Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey tracks the extent of substance abuse among teens and the results are published every other year. According to the latest MTF findings, 15% of high school seniors used a prescription drug non-medically in the past year, which is much higher than the percentage of teenagers using hallucinogens, ecstasy, salvia, inhalants or cocaine. Non-medical prescription drug use trails only marijuana and alcohol use among teens, but some progress is apparently being made.

Parents often worry about their children succumbing to illicit drug abuse, but some believe the reality is that prescription medications may be the greater problem. Unfortunately, in some cases, parents don’t question the use of prescription drugs to treat their teens’ anxiety or insomnia. They believe that if a doctor prescribes the medication, then it must be the right thing to do.

By keeping an ongoing dialogue with their children, parents can help alleviate teens’ anxiety by helping them feel they can talk openly to their parents about academic and social pressures without being judged or chastised. Candid discussions regarding the potential consequences of prescription medications—including side effects and possible dependency—to emphasize that prescription drugs should not be considered a harmless, quick fix for unwanted conditions.

Parents of adolescents to be alert for signs of substance abuse, and advises them to closely monitor the prescriptions of adult family members to determine if teens may be pilfering pills, ordering refills or otherwise accessing another’s prescription.

Colorado, Other States Seeing Increase in Benzo Addiction

rxbottle2Benzodiazepenes are strong anti-anxiety prescriptions that millions of people across the United States are taking, and many of them are abusing the drugs. Medications like Xanax or Klonopin are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia in patients. However, doctors are noticing an alarming trend with these medications. Those who have been on the drug for a long period of time are experiencing adverse effects and are becoming highly addicted. Some patients are speaking out and saying that they wished they had never been put on the drug, or that they had done more research on the potential of the severity of their dependence.

Kelly McMillian started taking Klonopin in 2008 when she was 29 years old. She had gone to her doctor complaining of anxiety and insomnia. At first the medication worked wonders on her symptoms but then she realized that she couldn’t stop taking the drug. If she went a day without the powerful medication her anxiety would become extremely intense, and she wouldn’t sleep. She realized that she had an addiction to benzodiazepenes. In order for her to get off the drug she had to adhere to a strict program to slowly lessen the amount she was taking, so as to not have a seizure or any other of the harmful withdrawal symptoms that are associated with a benzo addiction.

In 2011 the amount of people passing away from drug overdoses surpassed that amount of people who died in drunk driving related accidents. Armed with that alarming news, doctors should be more vigilant in prescribing drugs that are highly addictive, like Xanax. Abruptly stopping a Xanax or any kind of benzo prescription can be extremely dangerous and life threatening. Doctors caution that those who want to stop taking benzos do so under the care of a physician. Some withdrawal symptoms that can occur when a person stops taking benzos are; seizures, insomnia, severe anxiety, intense cravings for the drug and suicidal thoughts.

The state of Colorado has noticed that more and more people in the state are addicted to benzos. Reports show that the amount of people who died from benzo-related causes have almost doubled between the years of 2003 and 2012. Law enforcement cautions that benzos are most dangerous when mixed with alcohol or other drugs.

Get Caught Up on Emerging Trends in Addiction Treatment - ATS

Get Caught Up on Emerging Trends in Addiction Treatment

Get Caught Up on Emerging Trends in Addiction Treatment - ATS

Navigating the field of recovery centers can be extremely confusing for many people. There are many different options in terms of types of therapies, specialized programs and length of stay.

The substance abuse and mental health communities are continually striving to identify and use effective methods. As a result, treatment seekers and their families today have many choices. While this can be confusing at first, it also means you can surely find a program that is a good fit for your particular needs.

Below is an overview of the emerging trends that have become best practices in nearly all treatment centers, as well as some of the more cutting-edge techniques that are showing promise.

New Addiction Treatment Trends that Are Here to Stay

Although you could call them trends, these are really best practices that are so effective they’ve become the standard of care in high-quality treatment centers.

Comprehensive, Individualized Treatment

New Addiction Treatment Trends That Are Here to Stay - ATSOne of the most important emerging trends in the addiction treatment field is for facilities to offer a variety of services rather than only one path that all clients must follow.

Upon intake, trained staff use assessment tools to help pinpoint the areas in an individual’s life that need more attention, as well as which therapies are likely to be of greatest benefit to that individual.

As bestselling author Anne M. Fletcher has pointed out in her books “Inside Rehab” and “Sober for Good,” there are many ways in which people can recover from addiction. Even the definition of traditional treatment has changed, as an increasing number of 12-step-based facilities also offer additional types of counseling and therapy.

For maximum effectiveness, addiction treatment must be highly personalized to each individual’s needs. This customization is important because:

  • There are many different types of addiction, with different effects on the body and mind.
  • Each person has a different history and root cause of addiction.
  • Each individual has different motivation, values and goals.

Integration of Clinical, Holistic and Homeopathic Methods

Whereas treatment centers used to describe themselves as traditional, holistic, clinical, 12-step, etc., the present reality is that most facilities provide a combination of all these services. A particular rehab may focus its program around a certain type of approach, like the 12-step program, or holistic treatment, and then add on other types of services to supplement its core approach.

Focus on Addressing the Root Cause of Addiction

Experts in addiction treatment know that simply “getting clean” is not enough for long-term recovery. It’s critical to understand what led a person to drugs or alcohol in the first place, and help them resolve the cause of the problem so that the person doesn’t return to substances after leaving rehab.

Emphasis on Whole-Life Improvement

In addition to addressing the root cause of addiction, it’s important to help those in recovery create new habits and interests that improve their quality of life and help them avoid or manage the stress and cravings that can lead to relapse.

Clients are given training and experience in:

  • Healthy eating
  • Enjoyable exercise
  • Fulfilling and exciting leisure activities
  • Building healthy friendships and relationships
  • Drug-free pain management
  • How to manage stress and substance cravings

New Types of Addiction Treatment Therapies

Next, let’s explore some emerging trends in the psychological, medical and holistic fields that are being used to make addiction treatment more effective.

Targeted Clinical Therapy Techniques

Clinical therapies that have been developed over the past decades by psychologists that are now in widespread use include:

A newer emerging trend is virtual reality therapy, which is being used as a form of exposure therapy.

Effective Holistic Therapy Techniques

Another big trend is the integration of Western and Eastern medicine. Although techniques like yoga, acupuncture and meditation may be relatively new to Westerners, they have been in use as healing techniques in other parts of the world for hundreds, even thousands, of years.

Western therapists have taken inspiration from various fields to create effective addiction therapies for the modern age, including:

  • Meditation/mindfulness practices
  • Yoga
  • Adventure therapy and exercise
  • Acupuncture
  • Animal therapy
  • Gardening (horticulture) therapy
  • Art and music therapy

New Medically Based Therapies

Medical technology has also been evolving to find ways to alleviate pain from withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and remove biological dependency on substances. The ultimate goal of addiction recovery is to restore the human body to its natural processes and balance so the individual can center his or her life on healthy pursuits.

Some recent medical innovations in the addiction recovery field (technology- and medication-wise) include:

  • The Bridge device
  • Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide
  • Neurofeedback
  • Ibogaine
  • Biochemical restoration and nutrition
  • Hallucinogenic substances

New Drugs for Fighting Opioid Addiction

As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage the country, researchers have new drugs to help heroin and opiate addicts recover from the physical effects of addiction. Learn more about these alternatives to methadone and buprenorphine here, which include:

  • Zubsolv
  • Probuphine
  • Lofexidine hydrochloride
  • Naltrexone

Tips for Evaluating Addiction Treatment Centers

While treatment centers may promise to use all the latest cutting-edge techniques, it’s important for families and individuals to do their homework when researching a facility. Find out:

  • Which qualifications and certifications the staff has
  • What licensing the facility has
  • What the recommended length of stay is
  • What type of aftercare and support systems they have after completing inpatient treatment

Look for reviews online, question affiliations and ask for alternatives to compare.

We live in a country where we are fortunate enough to have a wide array of health care services, and substance abuse treatment is no exception. Even if your top choice isn’t available to you, it is possible to find several other programs and a course of treatment that can help you or your loved one achieve lasting sobriety.

Next, Learn About the Different Levels of Addiction Treatment

Explore Levels of Care

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2013, but was updated in September 2017 to reflect more recent information and advances in the addiction treatment field.