medication pills and bottle

Teens And The Difference Between Prescription Drug Use vs. Abuse


When we think of drugs, we tend to go straight to the image of grungy street dealers, but prescription drug abuse is just as bad and can even be more dangerous. Of course, it’s also a different and much more difficult issue to police due to the need to legitimately access prescriptions drugs. This makes it a very difficult category for parents to understand and help guide their children through.

Is every use of prescription drugs abuse in children?

Of course not. No matter the age, a child can have very real and legitimate needs to access prescription drugs- even fairly heavy prescriptions- dependant on mental and health issues they may have. As teachers or other responsible adults, you may not immediately be are of the intimate health care concerns of a child, and should not jump to arrogant conclusions about them or their parents. Do not immediately presume that a child is abusing prescription drugs simply because they have them. Even as a parent [who generally would be well aware of any medications or consultations with doctors that a child has undertaken] do not immediately presume your child is indulging in prescription drug abuse. Older teens particularly have limited rights to access medical procedures without parental consent, and treatments for things like STDs may legitimately be taking place. It is important to approach your child with an open mind. Check more here.

So, what must I do if my child is using prescription drugs [legitimately or not]?

Because prescription drug abuse is common among children, and must be addressed if discovered. It is important not to panic and react with snap decisions based on fear. Firstly, if you discover a prescription in the possession of a child in your care, either contact the parents to discuss the issue calmly, or if you are a parent address your child to discover why it is in their possession.

Do not attack and confront without full knowledge. Even if your child is using a prescription drug illegally, attacking them will not solve the problem but help them gain treatment for prescription drug abuse.

If your child legitimately needs to use a prescription drug, do be aware that just because these are medically sanctioned does not mean they are ‘safe’ in the sense of non-addictive or not open to abuse. Many drugs people need to function and address legitimate healthcare issues can still be dangerous if misused and not understood.

If your child does need to use a prescription for any reason, make sure they- and you- fully understand potential side effects and risks relating to prescription drug abuse and their script. While you should trust your doctor, of course, don’t ever forget that prescription drugs are still drugs and can still be dangerous if misused. Children must understand the risks and benefits, the risks of drug abuse, and be taught to be responsible with their medications as well as encouraged to ask for help if they or friends have problems.

Why do children abuse prescription drugs?

As with other drugs, prescription drug abuse can result from enjoyable side effects associated with its use,  peer pressure and ease of availability. Couple it with an impression that ‘prescription’ means perfectly safe and non-addictive, and it’s easy to understand why abuse occurs.

Keep your child safe from prescription drug abuse by being open and honest with them.



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