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Prescription Drug Abuse Among Adolescents

by James Heller 16. March 2009 12:28

Studies continue to show a rise in prescription drug abuse among teens.  The results of the study cited in the article below suggest that this is in large part due to perceptions and availability.  If there is no perceived risk, the number of teens using prescription drugs is likely to grow, and illegal drug dealers are sure to make them even more available.

So the 41% of adolescents who believe that prescription drugs are "much safer" than illegal drugs are a market for illegal distribution of prescription drugs.  This is the engine propelling the rise in abuse of prescription drugs.  It underlines the importance of educating teens on the dangers of abusing prescription drugs in order to expose the "much safer" myth.  

It is also important to educate parents and families on these dangers, and how adolescent drug treatment can help if needed.


Marijuana, Inhalants, and Prescription Drugs Are Top Three Substances Abused by Teens


More teens report abusing prescription drugs and inhalants than any illicit drug except marijuana, according to data from the recently released Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS). Marijuana continues to be the most prevalent drug used among this population, with nearly one-third of teens reporting having ever tried marijuana in their lifetime. The next two most prevalent substances abused, however, are substances that are not illegal when used as directed, and are often readily available in teens’ households. Nearly one in five (an estimated 4.7 million) teens have ever abused inhalants and the same number report abusing prescription drugs. In addition, 10% of teens (an estimated 2.5 million) have ever abused over-the-counter cough medicines—approximately the same percentage who have ever used crack/cocaine or ecstasy (see figure below). Perceived risk and availability may help explain the prevalence of prescription drug abuse—41% of teens thought that prescription drugs are much safer to use than illegal drugs and 61% reported that prescription drugs are easier to get than illegal drugs (data not shown).

Percentage of U.S. Teens (Grades 7 to 12) Reporting Ever Trying Drugs, 2008 (N=6,518)

 

NOTES: Abuse of inhalants and OTC cough medicine is defined as using the substance to get high. Abuse of prescription drugs is defined as use without a doctor’s prescription. The margin of error is +/- 1.3%.

SOURCE:  Adapted by CESAR from The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS): Teens 2008 Report, 2009. Available online at http://www.drugfree.org/Files/full_report_teens_2008. For more information, contact the Partnership at 212-922-1560.


Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The article above was found at http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/cesarfax/vol18/18-09.pdf among others of equal informational and educational quality.