Abuse of Prescription Painkillers and Stimulants Increases Sexual Risks

Teenagers who abuse prescription drugs like narcotic painkillers are more inclined to engage in risky sexual behaviors according to a new study.

The risky behaviors include having sex with many partners, having sex without using contraceptives or condoms, or using drugs or alcohol before having sex. 

The study found that teens are likely to abuse prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet, Сodeine, Vicodin; or sedatives like Ativan or Xanax; or stimulant drugs often used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for example, Ritalin or Adderall.

The study revealed that a fifth of high-school going kids reported a recreational use of prescription medicines, a behavior which is very disconcerting especially with the rapid rise of overdoses and deaths linked to the non-medical use of prescription drugs. Since 1999, deaths arising from overdose in prescription drugs have increased fourfold. In 2013 alone, 16,000 deaths were reported, and all were related to the recreational use of prescription painkillers.drunk _teens

The new link of risky sexual behaviors to the recreational use of prescription drugs adds to the constellation of the harmful side-effects of opiate addiction.

While conducting the study, the researchers reviewed surveys concerning risky behaviors that were completed by over 29,000 high school students. The survey had asked: How many times have you taken a prescription drug such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin, Percocet, or Xanax without a prescription from the doctor?

From the survey, it was found out that compared to their peers who did not recreationally use prescription drugs, the teens who did use them non-medically were:

  • 16 % higher chances they have had sex before,
  • 26 % higher chances that they are currently sexually active,
  • 14 % higher chances they did not use a condom the last time they engaged in sex,
  • 32 % higher chances they used alcohol or drugs before having sex,
  • 45 % higher chances they have four or more sexual partners.

From the study it was also deduced that the propensity to engage in any of the listed risky behaviors increased in proportion to how often or how deep the teens abused the prescription drugs.

According to psychologists who specialize in alcohol and chemical dependency, the findings highlight a multitude of challenges of adolescent brain development. As the psychologists claim, the brain takes almost 25 years to fully develop. The parts of the brain responsible for sensory emotions and experiences are the first to develop. The frontal cortex which is in charge of judgment develops last.

This then means that most adolescents have various needs for physical stimulation and excitement, but lack maturity and understanding of their behaviors. The problem is compounded when a substance/drug/alcohol is thrown in the mix; judgment becomes completely impaired. That is why adolescents are so easy to engage in risky behaviors.

Although most of the teens won’t be addicts to drugs or alcohol when they are grown-ups, earlier use significantly increases the risk of addiction in adulthood.

Addiction to the opiates may also lead to other problems: school problems, legal problems, health issues such as STDs, poor reputation, and unwanted pregnancy.

Therefore, it is important that teens be made aware of the ramifications of abusing prescription drugs. Once a parent realizes that the child is abusing a prescription medicine, they should immediately contact and discuss it with the pediatrician or mental health professional.