Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription Drugs can cure illness and block pain, and sometimes we need their beneficial effects. These drugs can also cause dependency and side effects that interfere with life. Because of this high potential for abuse, doctors monitor their patients closely for problems and limit the amount and duration of the prescription, in addition to watching for side effects.

Unfortunately, because these are legal drugs that can be prescribed by a doctor, sometimes teens and young adults may have a tendency to see these as “safe” alternatives to street drugs. Abuse of prescription drugs, such as Oxycontin, hydrocodone, and other opiates has been on the increase in South Dakota. Other types of commonly abused prescription drugs include amphetamines, Valium, and Percodan.

Prescription drugs are not safe for use by anyone other than the person for whom they were prescribed. Overdose or use with alcohol can cause death. Continued use can lead to dependence and long-term health problems.

Warning: It is illegal for anyone to sell or trade prescription drugs that are considered controlled substances. See the warning label on the side of the bottle for this information.

Underage Drinking

Alcohol is the most abused drug in the United States in all age groups. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows the heart rate and breathing, as well as the central nervous system. It especially affects the part of the brain that controls mood and emotion.

Time is the only cure for the effects of alcohol on the body. It takes your body about one hour to eliminate the alcohol in one shot of whiskey, one beer, or one glass of wine. All contain approximately the same amount of alcohol. Mixing alcohol with other drugs is especially dangerous. People troubled by alcohol use often have social, physical, financial, or emotional problems.

In South Dakota, as in other states, the legal age to begin drinking alcohol is 21. This is not a random number that someone pulled out of the air or chose as a way to pick on young adults. the human brain generally continues to develop through adolescence and early adulthood. This process continues until the age of 22-23, when the brain is fully developed. Because alcohol, like other drugs, is a mind-altering substance and affects the brain, these effects can influence the brain’s development.

Simply put, a person who begins drinking alcohol before the legal age of 21 has been shown to be more likely to develop alcohol-related problems, including abuse and dependence. Those who postpone alcohol use until the legal age, when their brain is fully or nearly fully developed rarely have such problems.


Marijuana is generally smoked or eaten. Marijuana use can interfere with decision-making, the ability to learn, and the ability to get along with others. Depression and anxiety are common side effects of marijuana use. Other effects of marijuana are:

  • Distortion of time, space, and short-term memory
  • Poor coordination
  • A decrease in male hormone levels
  • Anxiety, panic, or paranoia

Alcohol & Other Drugs

Today, everyone is exposed to the temptation to try drugs. Most people experiment for curiosity, for kicks, because of peer pressure, or to escape emotional problems. Drugs change the way we act, think, and feel. Some drugs cause depression; some make users feel invincible and can make them believe that nothing can bring them down; some drugs make users feel they can do anything. These are false and unpredictable feelings.

Some of the dangers of experimenting with drugs are:

  • Overdose
  • Physical illness
  • Accidents
  • Death or disease through use of impure or unknown drugs
  • Addiction
  • Trouble with the law

While physical addiction usually happens over a period of time, users sometimes experience a psychological dependence very quickly. What this means is that they like how the drug makes them feel and want to experience that again right away and start taking the drug more often and in higher amounts.

Life-threatening dangers exist not only when drugs are taken in excess, but also when they are taken for a long period of time or in the wrong combination. Effects also depend on how long a drug is taken, the user’s body size and attitude, family history, genetics and where the drug is taken. Drugs are very unpredictable and their effects on the body vary from person to person. Sometimes even the first use of a drug can cause long-lasting or even permanent consequences.



  • A hit of nicotine reaches the brain in seven seconds, twice as fast as a syringe of heroin injected into the vein.
  • Nicotine affects your mood, ability to concentrate, and performance.
  • Tolerance to nicotine begins with the first dose.
  • Nicotine increases the heartbeat and the rate of breathing.
  • Nicotine may act like a stimulant or a depressant depending on many factors.

Other facts you may not know

It is illegal in the State of South Dakota for persons under the age of 18 to possess, smoke, chew, or ingest tobacco products.