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Prescription Pills: The New Drug of Choice for Teens

What Kids Are Taking

Depressant: Xanax

  • Nicknames: Z-bar, bricks, Benzos
  • Generic: alprazolam
  • Legitimate uses: Treats anxiety and sleeplessness; is an anticonvulsant
  • Kids take: Orally, or occasionally by crushing and snorting
  • Effects: Wooziness, floating feelings, mind-and-body numbness

Depressant: Valium

  • Nickname: blues
  • Generic: diazepam
  • Legitimate uses: Treats anxiety and sleeplessness; is an anticonvulsant
  • Kids take: Orally, or occasionally by crushing and snorting
  • Effects: Euphoria and sleepiness

Stimulants: Ritalin, Concerta

  • Nicknames: Rid, vitamin R, jif, R-ball, Ritty, Rits
  • Generic: methylphenidate
  • Legitimate use: Treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults
  • Kids take: Orally, or by crushing and snorting
  • Effects: Intense feeling of energy and increased concentration

Stimulant: Adderall

  • Nicknames: beans, black beauties, Christmas trees, double trouble
  • Generic: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine
  • Legitimate use: Treats ADHD
  • Kids take: Orally; crushing/snorting
  • Effects: Intense feeling of energy and increased concentration

Painkillers: Vicodin, Vicoprofen, Tussionex, Lortab, Norco

  • Nicknames: Vike, Watson-387, Tuss
  • Generic: hydrocodone
  • Legitimate use: Treats pain
  • Kids take: Orally; crushing/snorting
  • Effect: Intense euphoria

Painkillers: OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet

  • Nicknames: OC, cotton, Percs
  • Generic: oxycodone
  • Legitimate use: Treats pain
  • Kids take: Orally; crushing/snorting
  • Effect: Intense euphoria

Painkillers: Avinza, Kadian, MS Contin, MSIR, Oramorph SR, Rescudose, Roxanol

  • Nickname: Morph
  • Generic: morphine
  • Legitimate use: Treats pain
  • Kids take: Orally; crushing/snorting
  • Effects: Euphoria and hallucinations

Real-Life Rescue Advice

Michelle and Rick Swanson went to hell and back with their daughter Sara, now 18. Here's what they want you to know about talking to your kid when you think there's a problem — and after you know there's one.

Act quickly. Kids change fast, so when something feels wrong — your child writes poems about drug trips; she stays out late — don't wait to address her behavior. Sara went from being an honor student who'd never smoked to a pothead who engaged in completely outrageous behavior (like lighting up a cigarette in her seventh grade classroom) within months.

Create a behavior contract with your kid. At the first sign of trouble, sit down and draw up a written contract with consequences that you both understand and agree upon. "The first time curfew's broken, you're grounded for a week; the second time, for a month. The third time, we go in for a drug test." That way, your kid knows what your expectations are.

Don't be afraid of getting blood tests. After Sara had been out all night without explanation, we finally told her that although she'd denied using drugs, we felt her actions spoke louder than her words, and we'd arranged for a chemical evaluation. A urine test costs about $25; a hair test, $80; and a blood draw is $130 or more — but since it tests for more drugs than a urinalysis, it's worth it. Don't tell your child till you're en route: We let Sara know in advance, and she drank bleach and took niacin pills to beat the urine test.

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