Caregivers have been prescribing
psychotropic medication for adolescents in increasing
numbers. Although the prescriptions may be appropriate,
sometimes the medication ends up in the hands of
people other than the intended patients, reports
the July 2007 issue of the Harvard Mental Health
Letter. In fact, surveys show that about 1 teenager
in 10 uses prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes.
In a recent survey of more than 1,000 middle and high
school students, researchers sought to find out how
often drugs were diverted and how they were used. In
the study, up to 60% of students receiving legitimate
prescriptions had been approached to divert their medications.
About 1 in 10 traded medication. A smaller proportion
sold it, and as many as 25% gave it to friends or family
There is still much to learn about the motivation
and context of all this sharing and trading, says the Harvard
Mental Health Letter. We do know that not all
rerouting is for recreation. Often the aim seems to
be relief of pain, anxiety, or insomnia.
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