The Misuse of Prescription and Over The Counter (OTC) Medications By Adolescents

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Teenage Use of Over-the-counter Medications

Adolescents misuse prescription medications more than any other drug except alcohol and marijuana. Commonly abused medications include Vicodin, Xanax and even common over-the-counter cough and cold medications.

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Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, FAAP, and John R. Knight, MD, FAAP, conducted a presentation on how to prevent and identify misuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications (OTCs) at the AAP National Conference and Exhibition.

During the past decade, there have been tremendous advances in the treatment of chronic pain, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and anxiety. However, the same medications that are responsible for these advances can be harmful or fatal when misused. The challenge for physicians is to provide compassionate and effective care for those who need medications, while preventing the spread of prescription medications to those who do not. They recommend that adolescents be screened at all annual health maintenance visits for the misuse of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Physicians and parents should recognize the non-specific signs suggestive of drug misuse, which include fatigue, loss of interest in hobbies, and poor school performance. Caution should be used when prescribing medications with abuse potential.

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