The Secret Gateway Drug: Prescription Pills – West Valley Counseling Center

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11 Sep

The Secret Gateway Drug: Prescription Pills

With all of the modern stressors that accompany adolescence, teens are looking for coping strategies and escape routes any way that they can. Unfortunately, some teens choose to turn to drugs and other harmful coping mechanisms. While marijuana and alcohol get the most attention for being gateway drugs, prescription drug addiction is on the rise, so much that the Centers for Disease Control has gone on to label the issue as an epidemic. These prescription drugs are one of the paths that adolescents are taking without understanding the consequences of substance dependence and abuse, and where it can lead them.

Because of the lack of awareness regarding the dangers of prescription drug as not only an addiction and of a gateway drug, we have a major issue of miscommunication with adolescents and teens. Many teens are under the impression that prescription drugs are safe, as they are sold in a legitimate medical setting and have been prescribed by a doctor. This could not be further from the truth. By developing an addiction to these drugs, adolescents prime themselves for even more harmful drug-seeking behavior. As tolerance increases, addicted teens will look for cheaper and easier drugs to fulfill that same ‘high'.

Heroin has become the drug of choice for many teens that have abused prescription drugs. According to Foundation for a Drug Free World, even a single dose of heroin can lead to addiction, and especially if teens have already become dependent on or abuse other drugs. Teens who abuse prescription drugs also are at-risk for overdosing, which is much harder to do when experimenting with alcohol or marijuana. Overdosing is also a leading cause of death for heroin users, and as it can often be much stronger than prescription pills, teens run the risk of overdosing due to simple miscalculations of dosage.

So, the question remains: how can we protect teens and adolescents from prescription pills?

The best methods include: educating teens about the dangers of prescription drugs, and to store and dispose of prescriptions properly. Locking up prescriptions and keeping an open dialogue with teens regarding addiction and drug experimentation is just the beginning to the long road of a healthy and drug-free life.

West Valley Counseling Center offers services in Addiction Recovery and therapy for teens and adolescents, as well as adults.

For more information or to speak to one of our staff at the West Valley Counseling Center, please contact us at (818) 758-9450 or email us at


West Valley Counseling Center is located at 19634 Ventura Blvd. Suite 212 Tarzana, CA 91356