One medical center is urging parents to seek non-medical solutions for their children’s anxiety or insomnia, after a recent study found that teens prescribed anti-anxiety or sleep medications are up to 12 times more likely to abuse prescription drugs than those who had never been prescribed them.
The University of Michigan study found that adolescents prescribed anti-anxiety or sleep medications during the study period were 10 times more likely to engage in recreational use of others’ prescriptions, while those who had been prescribed the drugs prior to the study were 12 times more likely to do so.
In addition, the latest Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey found that 15% of high school seniors used a prescription drug non-medically in the past year, which is 3 to 6 times higher than the percentage using hallucinogens, ecstasy, salvia, inhalants or cocaine, and only trails marijuana and alcohol use among teens.
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In response to this research, Novus Medical Detox Center is urging parents to seek non-medical solutions for their children’s anxiety or insomnia, and encourages parental intervention for teens already using prescription medications.
“While parents often worry about their children succumbing to illicit drug abuse, the reality is that prescription medications may be the greater problem,” said Kent Runyon, executive director of Novus Medical Detox Center. “I believe the key message for all of us in the healthcare industry is to recognize the very real risk that goes hand-in-hand with anxiety and sleep medications.”
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Runyon recommends that parents and healthcare practitioners first consider natural remedies before prescription sleeping pills or anti-anxiety medication. “There are natural remedies and holistic practices that than be highly successful in treating both anxiety and sleep. But once a youth starts down this path it is very difficult to get them to ever let go of the medication which leads to other problems and frequently worse symptoms than the one they had at the beginning,” Runyon said.
Natural remedies include yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, chamomile tea, green tea, lavender aromatherapy and herbal supplements such as valerian, passionflower and lemon balm.
Physicians also need to review other factors before prescribing sleep and anti-anxiety medications to teens, according to Runyon. “Are we looking at their diet before writing a prescription? How much caffeine and sugar is in their diet? Are they properly hydrating their bodies? Are they educated first on sleep hygiene practices, or are they playing video games late into the night then struggling to sleep after playing video games for hours?”
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