Teens Buying Drugs Online

Researchers from Columbia University recently spent five years searching the Internet for websites that advertise and sell prescription drugs. They found 365. Eighty-five percent of them did not require a doctor’s prescription or proof of age, even though people were buying powerful narcotics.

But you don’t need Columbia University to tell you that drugs are available on the Internet. You can prove it to yourself right now. Go on “Google,” and plug in the word “OxyContin,” the most popular prescription drug among teens today. OxyContin is an extremely potent painkiller most commonly prescribed to terminally ill cancer victims. It is a chemical cousin to heroin and morphine, and is extremely addictive.

Your Google search will immediately turn up over 7.5 million websites for OxyContin. Some have headlines like “Buy Pain Pills Legally,” “85% Off Oxycodone” and “No Prescription? That’s OK.” Next try googling “codeine” and “Vicodin,” two other prescription drugs popular with teens, and similar results come up.

Most websites selling drugs illegally appear and disappear, shutting down the moment the Federal Drug Administration discovers them, and re-opening under new names once they are clear of the government’s radar.

The sad fact emerging from your searches and the Columbia study is that your child can buy any prescription drug he wants over the Internet without having a prescription or showing proof of age. He can pay for it with your credit card and have it sent to your house in a plain brown wrapper. This eliminates the problem of having to buy from criminal street dealers.

A staggering one in five teenagers has tried prescription drugs illegally, according to the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse. Among the seven million Americans who are abusing these drugs, 76 percent get them from smugglers, forged prescriptions, and online pharmacies, with prescriptions written by unethical doctors and nurse practitioners accounting for the rest. Teens tend to get their drugs from family medicine cabinets and friends, and then resort to Internet pharmacies when their usual “suppliers” run out.

The problem is that prescription drugs are every bit as dangerous and addictive as street drugs – a fact teens usually refuse to acknowledge. Teens believe prescription drugs are purer and safer to use, but this is not the case. For one thing, foreign drug manufacturers and vendors are not held to American standards. This year, for example, four people died and many others suffered severe and life-threatening allergic reactions after taking the blood-thinning medication heparin, contaminated during processing in a Chinese manufacturing plant.

President Bill Clinton asked Congress to regulate Internet drug sales back in 2000, and yet not much happened since then except ongoing discussions. This summer subcommittees in the U.S. House of Representatives were still taking testimony on the subject of “Online Pharmacies and the Problem of Internet Drug Abuse,” but so far, nothing has passed into law.

Until more regulations are in place, parents need to be aware of the danger of Internet drug sales. If you suspect your teenager is abusing drugs, get help from your doctor or other medical professional. Don’t allow your teen to use credit cards unless you regularly read monthly statements of purchases.