It's long been known that some teenagers raid the family medicine cabinet or a friend's locker for legal drugs that will get them high. But a new survey suggests that's not their only prescription drug problem.
What does this coyote know that teen drug users don't?
Twenty percent of a diverse sampling of teens surveyed in a report in this month's Journal of Adolescent Health say they also bum antibiotics, antidepressants, serious acne meds, and ADHD drugs off each other, as a way of treating their own ailments.
Most don't see warning labels or any instructions that come with the shared pills. And about a third of the kids suffer side effects, says Chris Mayhorn, a North Carolina State University psychologist involved in the research.
Other researchers have studied people selling prescription drugs, but we looked at people with good intentions, trying for instance, to help a friend who lacked money or transportation for a doctor's visit.
According to survey results, few teens report their drug sharing to a doctor -- in fact, many bum the pills to sidestep a doctor's visit. Allergic reactions, antibiotic resistance, and nasty drug interactions are just a few of the risks of such behavior, Mayhorn says.
So, how do you teach kids -- and especially teens -- to steer clear of some drugs and to use others responsibly?
The National Institute of Drug Abuse seems to be moving way beyond its "Just Say No" days, with a "for-teens-by-teens" Web site that stresses curiosity and information over willpower. Games, webisodes, and FAQs are one thing, but what grabbed my attention was a little blog posting about the second-place winner at a recent NIDA-sponsored high school science fair, "The Effect of Human Methamphetamine Usage on Carnivore Scavenging." (Second place?! Please!)
Want to talk with your kids about drug use? Start with "Meth Dead Don't Get Eaten." Even coyotes won't touch the bodies of deceased meth users, an analysis of autopsy records showed.