Drug-related emergency room visits by teenagers increased 20% from 1999 to 2000.6 Accidents, overdoses, and psychotic episodes are the usual reasons. Nurses making assessments in these cases may need to collect a history from accompanying friends and family and be familiar with the drug culture language. Poly drug use is becoming increasingly common: mixing drugs together, using alcohol and drugs, and taking prescription drugs and street drugs simultaneously. This practice has created a situation of unpredictability.
Experimentation among users is giving them a broader knowledge base than what nurses have access to through the annals of scientific research. 13 There is no guide for sensible usage of drugs, similar to the guidelines on alcohol consumption given by the Motor Vehicle Department and drivers education courses. The ability to make decisions about drug use is affected by age, intellect, maturity, social and peer pressure. Most adolescents have an illusion about their invulnerability that is only gradually shattered by painful consequences to high risk behaviors.