Anxiety and Sleep Meds Increase Risk for Drug Abuse

According to a study done by the University of Michigan School of Nursing, when adults and teens are prescribed anti-anxiety drugs or sleep-aid medications, they are more likely to abuse prescription drugs and illegal narcotics than adults and teens who are not taking prescriptions for such problems.

The study also warns that people, especially teens, are being prescribed anxiety drugs and sleep drugs with little to no screening for potential substance abuse in those individuals. When screening does not occur, there is no way to tell if the patient sitting in front of a doctor is a potential (or current) substance abuser.

One of the lead researchers commented on the project, stating that not enough attention is given to the issue because America is so focused on the opioid problem. But in all reality, anti-anxieties and sleep aids are statistically just as addictive as opioid drugs are when teens take them.

The study took over three years and involved surveying and researching two-thousand seven-hundred middle school and high school students. The study found that just shy of nine percent of the participants in the survey had been prescribed anxiety medication such as Klonopin, Valium, Xanax, etc. The study also found that nine percent of youth had been prescribed sleep aids like Ambien, Lunesta, or Restoril. All of these are potentially addictive, with risks of addiction being more prevalent in young people who take the drugs than they are in older people.

Teens and Prescription Drugs

More than three percent of American teens are currently taking a powerful, potentially addictive and mind-altering prescription drug for anxiety or sleeping problems. According to the survey, those who were currently on a prescription for anxiety drugs or sleep drugs were more than ten times as likely to also be self-medicating and experimenting with those drugs than teens who were not prescribed the drugs.

The survey results went on to show that teens who were not currently on a prescription for anxiety or sleep meds but who had been on one in the past were the most likely of all teens surveyed to engage in substance abuse tendencies. This is especially concerning, because it shows that teens who have been treated from start to finish for anxiety (or sleep) through the use of prescription drugs are also the demographic that is most likely to abuse these drugs. They are even more likely to find and self-medicate on these drugs than teens who are currently on a prescription for them!

There is a significant amount of risk that is associated with anti-anxiety drugs and sleep medications. Such substances can impair driving. Such substances can make it difficult to focus in school. Such substance can even prove fatal for the user when mixed with alcohol or other drugs.

Increases in prescription drug misuse amongst teens are almost always traced back to a prescription that the teen had at one point. Nine times out of ten, addiction in teens starts not because they bought drugs on the street, but because they were prescribed an addictive pharmaceutical. Ultimately, such drugs are overprescribed to teens, to begin with, especially since there are far safer and more natural, holistic methods for calming nerves, reducing anxiety, and making it easier to sleep.

Solutions for Teen Anxiety and Sleep Difficulties

As if the prescribing of addictive drugs for all ages wasn’t already bad enough, we definitely do not need to be doping up teens on anxiety medication and sleep drugs. These are addictive drugs that create addictions. These drugs are so addictive that teens who have had a taste of them are up to twelve times as likely to get hooked on them as teens who have never had them are.

A survey done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that three percent of U.S. teens under the age of eighteen abuse anti-anxiety medications and sleeping drugs. About ten percent are currently prescribed them. When we hit the rewind button to twenty years ago, teens were rarely put on powerful, mind-altering pharmaceuticals for sleeping problems or anxiety issues. In fact, prior to the turn of the century, anxiety was considered a part of teen hormones and sleeping problems were just a factor of excessive, adolescent energy. These were not problems that you “medicated.”

However, we do not have to completely discount these problems as being valueless or unimportant. We can address them. Vitamins D and B1 do wonders for the nerves and for sleeping. Regular exercise will put a body right to sleep too. Conversely, youth obesity and a bad diet will keep them up at night. A good, reliable schedule with family members who are supportive actually reduces anxiety, as do certain foods. Even cooking spices like bay leaves can reduce anxiety. So do certain teas. There are plenty of ways to help teens cope with anxiety, nerves, fear, sleeping problems, and other problems that are so token to their age. We don’t need to medicate our nation’s teens and young adults one-hundred percent of the time.

Sources:

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2014/11/25/teens-given-anxiety-sleep-meds-may-be-at-risk-for-drug-abuse

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/summary

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/11/anxiety-medications.aspx

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