Teens Prescribed Anti-Anxiety or Sleep Drugs Twelve Times More Likely to Abuse Them Later


Teens are twelve times more likely to obtain and take anti-anxiety or sleep medications illegally to get high if they were prescribed those same psychiatric drugs earlier in their lives, according to research published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

“Based on surveys of more than 2,700 high school and middle school students from the Detroit area, almost 9 percent had been prescribed a potentially addictive benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medication (e.g., Xanax, Valium or Klonopin) or sleep medication (e.g., Ambien, Lunesta or Restoril) at some time in their lives,” stated a press release about the study. “More than 3 percent of students had a current prescription during the study, which took place from 2009 to 2012, and those students were 10 times more likely than students who never had a prescription to obtain anti-anxiety or sleep medications illegally for reasons including so they could experiment or get high.”

“This is a wake-up call to the medical community as far as the risks involved in prescribing these medications to young people,” lead researcher Carol J. Boyd from the University of Michigan School of Nursing said in the press release.

(Abstract) A Prospective Study of Adolescents’ Nonmedical Use of Anxiolytic and Sleep Medication. (Boyd, Carol J. et al. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Published online November 24, 2014. doi: 10.1037/adb0000026)

Teens Prescribed Anti-Anxiety or Sleep Medications More Likely to Abuse Those Drugs Illegally, Research Finds (American Psychological Association Press Release, November 24, 2014)


  1. The majority of young adults checking into drug and alcohol treatment today were psych med kids.

    Don’t believe me ? Go to an AA/NA meeting where the treatment center vans show up with clients and ask around… It’s easy, bring up the subject of ADHD and those drugs… anyone take those as that as a kid? Did they say you were “bipolar too” ? It won’t take you long to see what’s going on.

    Child psychiatry produces adult drug addicts. It’s so obvious.

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    • The crash from and being on ADHD drugs every day for years during youth creates that edge that makes self medicating with alcohol and opiates a ‘natural’ response. Just like people who use cocaine do.

      Then of course add what the article above points out.

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  2. This article naturally raises the question: why are so many kids and adolescents being prescribed drugs in the first place. The medical profession is opting for short term solutions that have long-term ramifications. Prescribing medication to young people recklessly clearly gives the messages that problems in life require medication and that emotional distress has biological causes. Both these messages can impair the development of identity and autonomy that is so crucial in adolescents and young adults.

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