Teen Drug Abuse - Preventive Role of Healthcare Providers Print
Written by By Ramsey Bradley, M.S.   
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 15:33

Drug abuse and addiction are a major burden to society, with economic costs alone estimated to exceed $600 billion annually in the United States (ONDCP 2004; Rehm et al. 2009; CDC 2007). This includes health and crime-related costs, and losses in productivity. As staggering as these numbers are, they provide a limited perspective of the devastating consequences of this disease for individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole.

While there are no statistics available to show the extent teens play in the overall economic costs, recent statistics show that illicit drug use is declining among US teenagers.  This sounds good until you look at the fact that prescription drug abuse has risen sharply.  Between 1999 and 2006, the US Department of Health and Human Services reports, the number of surveyed 12 to 17-year-olds who reported nonmedical use of a psychotherapeutic medication with the previous year increased by more than 60%.  In 2005, an estimated 1.4 million US emergency department (ED) visits were related to substance abuse.  Abuse of prescription drugs accounted for 37% of these cases.  Of these overmedication numbers, teens 12 to 17 years old accounted for more than 13,000 ED visits per year.

The statistics listed above emphasize the importance for clinicians, especially emergency medicine providers to appreciate the magnitude of prescription drug abuse among adolescents so that overdoses or chronic abuse can be identified and treated.  Although data involving emergency PAs and NPs are not readily available, fewer than 40% of physicians receive formal medical school training in recognizing prescription drug abuse.  According to the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), 43% of physicians neglect to ask about prescription drug abuse during the patient history.  Clinicians who provide emergency care, and primary care providers, are in a position to help identify and assist in treatment with the growing abuse of prescription medications by teenage patients.  Everyone in the medical profession needs to be more informed of recent trends in drug abuse and treatment resources.

Many agencies and personnel in this country are working diligently to stop the growth of substance abuse of any kind.  If we all work to keep informed and regularly reach out to resources that can provide timely information. We can save many teens that will die young or enter adulthood with debilitating medical problems and/or addiction.

Mr. Ramsey Bradley,Founder/Facilitator of the Adolescent Drug Awareness Program (www.adolescentdrugawareness.com), has a Masters Degree in Psychology/Counseling and has more than 20 years of experience working with teens and their families.  His experience includes Private Practice, Public Mental Health and Substance Abuse areas of interest.  Throughout his many years of experience, he has observed a huge gap in programs that address the specific needs of today's teens and their families.  The Adolescent Drug Awareness Program is the result of his findings, many years of ongoing research and dedication into finding successful strategies for both teens and their families.