I just stumbled across a horrifying “info graphic” from Rehabs.com that I could not help but share. It shows the progressive deterioration in the facial features of people hooked on methamphetamines (i.e. crystal meth) for only a short period of time. And if there were ever a better deterrent for meth use, I have no idea what it could be. This is about as convincing as it gets, so I reproduce it here in the hope that it persuades people to leave this stuff alone.
A recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that prescription drug abuse among young people aged 18-25 has dropped roughly 14% in the last year. In other words, 300,000 fewer young people are either abusing their own medications or popping pills that don’t belong to them.
As someone who works at a small private college and witnesses this kind of abuse regularly, I couldn’t be happier to hear about this downturn. And my hope is that 2012 will see an even sharper drop.
Prescription drug abuse has been a growing problem on many college and university campuses for as long as I can remember. At my school, most of this abuse centers upon medications used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), namely Ritalin and Adderall.
I was diagnosed with Adult ADD several years ago and have since taken a number of different medications, finally settling on Vyvanse, which seems to be working. Of course, I know exactly what these drugs can do, especially to people for whom they were not prescribed. Obvious side effects include appetite suppression, dry mouth and insomnia, all of which can be troublesome in their own way. However, things like increased heart rate, depression and anorexia are even more serious, and in some cases can be fatal.
A college student who just stole Adderall from their roommate or bought some pills from a friend likely wouldn’t consider these potential risks. To them, it’s all about the buzz and the “concentration boost” the medication provides. And more often than not, these “abusers” use the drug as a substitute for motivation. It helps them focus enough to actually listen in class or to finish assignments they should have completed without the medication.
Students lucky enough not to experience serious side effects after taking ADD medications that don’t belong to them face another challenge: coping with college-level work when there is no drug to be had. In these instances, abusers now have to rely on their inherent skills and motivation to get them through. And if deficiencies in these areas first led them to the ADD drugs, then they may find themselves at even more of a disadvantage. Now they either have to adapt or find a new connection. Sadly, I fear most of them will opt for the latter.
Obviously, the abuse of ADD medication isn’t the only prescription drug issue among college students. They have also been known to abuse painkillers, which can be even more dangerous since some students combine them with alcohol. The news is filled with stories of young people, and even celebrities, who mixed pills and booze with deadly results. How many more have to die before people realize just how dangerous this can be?
Yes, prescription drug abuse among young people is declining, but we still have a long way to go. At this point, the best preventative measures seem to be information and persistence. We have to educate our youth about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and continue to drive our point home at every turn. Only then can we ensure our young people focus on what is most important: their future.