The Misuse of Prescription Pain Medicine Among Children and Teens | Adolescent Medicine | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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JAMA Pediatrics Patient Page
May 2015

The Misuse of Prescription Pain Medicine Among Children and Teens

JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(5):512. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.2128

Prescription pain relievers include narcotics, depressants, and stimulants. These medications are often prescribed to adults after surgery or after some other medical procedure; in 2012, 259 million prescriptions for painkillers were written. Deaths from an overdose of prescription drugs have dramatically increased over the last 20 years and are now a leading cause of injury death. Having these medications around the house poses risks to children and adolescents.

Each year, thousands of children are hospitalized—and some die—after taking medication that was not meant for them. Young children may take medicine that they find around the house because it looks like candy. Adolescents may take prescription medications that were not meant for them, and some of these adolescents then share these stolen prescription drugs at “pharm parties.”