What Motivates Young People to Abuse Prescription Drugs?

Young people abusing prescription drugsAccording to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) 11.4% of young people ages 12 to 25 are using prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons each year. While we’d much rather like to believe younger people are not battling this, they are – and these types of drugs have been more accessible than ever before. Whether through buying and selling, online transactions, obtaining them from friends/family members or simply coming to abuse them after being treated for an injury, medical condition or something else, it’s safe to say that our young people need support. One of the best ways to provide support, however, is to gain more information – particularly around the motivations surrounding prescription drug abuse. What are their biggest reasons for abusing prescriptions drugs? Let’s find out.

A 2015 study published in the journal Drugs sought to explore these very motivations of prescription drug abuse by conducting interviews with 70 young people. The following were the most commonly reported reasons:

  1. Experimentation – during a time where young people are experiencing much freedom, it was well noted that experimentation was a major motivation factor. Whether to bond with friends, “see what works”, or to use as a normalized part of high school or college, many participants shared similar views regarding experimentation.
  2. “Work Hard…” – for young people who identified themselves as “over-achievers”, some prescriptions drugs, like Adderall, reported misusing drugs as a way to cope with high expectations.
  3. “Play Hard, Relax Hard” – in addition to nightlife contexts, many young people expressed their desire to add more entertainment to “mundane” activities, like watching TV, by misusing prescription drugs.

It’s clear that our population of youth and young adults is struggling. They need more support, more resources and more effort placed in providing them with the tools they need to overcome day-to-day challenges. If we can encourage them to seek help earlier on, we may save more lives.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.