When it comes to teenagers and drugs, we’re perhaps a little more focused on them smoking marijuana or drinking too much alcohol. However, there’s a global problem concerning prescription drugs, particularly in the western world.

The rise of prescription drug abuse is quite alarming. Many rehabilitation centres for drugs in the UK and USA, in particular, are seeing a massive surge in the number of people coming through their doors for treatment. What’s more, the number of overdoses is quite breathtaking.

Studies have shown that in the USA, over 30% of high school seniors are now abusing prescription drugs as the stresses around studies have come to the fore, turning what was once a mental health crisis into both a mental health crisis and a drug crisis.
It’s not just in the USA, though. Prescription drug addiction, and in particular fentanyl, is happening all over the world, to the point where governments aren’t just doing things to try and prevent it, but more and more are now putting processes in place to limit the number of overdoses and allow young people to take such drugs safely.

Opioids are undoubtedly the biggest problem, and further studies have shown that this is most notable among sports students. The Michigan School of Nursing found that one in three aged between 17 and 18 is likely to start misusing opioids. Philip Veliz, who led the study, said of the situation:

“Misuse of prescription opioids was higher for respondents who participated in contact sports during the 12th grade. However, participation in this type of sport was not associated with initiating this type of drug use in young adulthood.”

Of course, that isn’t necessarily a sports problem but a broader societal problem. When it comes to addiction, many don’t yet see their obsession to get treatment, particularly at a young age, while money can also be a problem when checking into treatment centres.

In major cities like Vancouver, where prescription drug addiction is rife among college kids and the homeless, clinics are being set up not to try and prevent fentanyl usage but rather to allow people to administer it safely. Providing clean needles and monitored environments, the aim is to prevent the disease from sharing needles and be on hand if anyone overdoses. One clinic alone in the Canadian city has saved thousands of lives.

But that isn’t solving the problem, and many have suggested that it’s only enabling it. However, it is a step to keeping people alive, but more needs to be done by governments to try and prevent it through the likes of education, drug programmes and help for those that need it most, or this pandemic of prescription drug addiction is only going to get worse and hit a natural breaking point.