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Teen Girls' Health

Prescription Drugs

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By Jennifer Ashton, M.D., Ob-Gyn with Christine Larson
WebMD Feature by “The Body Scoop for Girls”


Over the past few years we’ve heard more and more about prescription drug use as a source of serious problems for teens. At one end of the spectrum is sneaking prescription medications from your parents’ medicine cabinet. At the other end there’s “pharming.” Possibly an urban legend, but one that clearly illustrates the dangers of prescription drugs, the story goes like this: You show up at a party and find a giant bowl filled with random pills. People pass it around like a big bowl of popcorn, dig their hands in, and swallow fistfuls of unknown prescription drugs. Where did they come from? Parents’ medicine cabinets—their antidepressants or anxiety medicines, sleeping pills, painkillers, high blood pressure medications, even hormones.

At both ends of the spectrum, abusing prescription drugs is every bit as dangerous and potentially deadly as buying cocaine off the street. Anytime you’re taking unknown pills—whether from your own bathroom or the party punch bowl—you’re taking a huge risk. You have no idea what you’re taking. Even if you do know, you probably don’t have a clue how one drug might interact with another, or how strong they are. You don’t know the possible side effects, dangers, or other risks involved.

Never, never risk your life by popping a handful of prescription medications or raiding your parents’ medicine chest. Even one pill might be enough to put you into a coma. And repeatedly taking prescription medications can lead to physical dependence or addiction.

Drug Abuse, Aisle Two

Just because something’s for sale at the drugstore doesn’t mean it’s safe. In fact, anything sold on the drug aisle is potentially deadly in excessive amounts. That goes for aspirin, Tylenol, Motrin, Bengay muscle rub, Pepto-Bismol, Midol, Benadryl, you name it. Those instructions on the package are there for a reason. Never take more than the directed amount or take it more often than recommended on the package, unless a doctor tells you to. Otherwise you could harm your liver, your kidneys, or your brain.

If you’re feeling bad enough to cruise the aisles of your local drugstore looking for an over-the-counter remedy, you deserve to feel better. Tell your parents, talk to your doctor, or find other adults you can trust.

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