Sure, we have street drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, “shrooms,” crack, and ecstasy, but for the average teenager, they’re not always easy to come by. Prescription drugs on the other hand, are incredibly easy to access. For millions of American teenagers, all they have to do is open their parents’ medicine cabinet for their next high – and it doesn’t cost them a dime.
In the United States, prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions, namely because the U.S. consumes the lion’s share of the world’s prescription drugs. As more households gain access to Medi-Cal, Medicare, or employer-sponsored health insurance, we can anticipate a steady increase in prescription drug abuse among adults and teens.
What is prescription drug abuse?
A lot of people don’t understand that prescription drugs can be extremely dangerous. They mistakenly believe that because they are prescribed by a doctor, they must be “safe.” Unfortunately, prescription drugs can be as addicting as illegal street drugs, and statistics have proven that America is heavily medicated.
Prescription drug abuse refers to when someone takes their own prescription to get high, when they take too high of a dose, or when they take a medication that was prescribed to someone else. Often, prescription drug abuse leads to blindly mixing medications, putting one’s life at risk, and fatal overdose.
According to the National Institute of Health:
- Prescription drugs are the third most commonly abused substance among Americans ages 14 and up, behind marijuana and alcohol,
- Some of the main reasons teens abuse prescription drugs are to get high, to treat pain, and to help them study,
- The majority of teenagers obtain prescription drugs from their friends or family,
- Boys are more likely to abuse prescription drugs for the purposes of getting high, while girls are more likely to abuse them to lose weight or improve alertness.
Like illegal drugs, prescription drugs can be equally addicting, even when they are lawfully prescribed by a doctor. Prescription drug abuse puts the teenager at risk of dangerous side and health effects, especially when they are combined with alcohol.
Some of the commonly abused prescription drugs in Orange County include: Valium, Xanax, Vicodin, OxyContin, codeine, Adderall, and Ritalin. So parents, if you have any of these drugs in your medicine cabinet or kitchen cupboard, you may want to find a way to lock them up.
Not only is abusing prescription drugs against the law, driving under the influence of them can lead to a prescription drug DUI under sections 23152(c) and (e) of the California Vehicle Code. A conviction for a prescription drug DUI may lead to:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Drug education classes
- Informal probation for up to 5 years
- Up to $1,500 in fines and court costs
- Skyrocketing insurance premiums
Even though driving under the influence of prescription medications can be very dangerous, the scientific research in this area of law is still in its infantile stages. While we have a plethora of data that clearly defines how alcohol affects the body, we have little information about how drugs (and there are dozens of them) affect a person’s ability to drive safely.
It’s this lack of reliable evidence about controlled substances that allows DUI defense attorneys to successfully challenge prescription drug DUI cases. If your son or daughter is facing prescription drug DUI charges, a conviction could affect their ability to obtain a college scholarship, work with medications, obtain a professional license, get into the military, get a security clearance job, and much more.