1 in 5 High Schoolers Abuse Prescription Meds

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According to a new survey, 20% of U.S. high schoolers have taken a prescription drug that was not prescribed to them.

The Survey

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed over 16,000 high school students, asking whether they had ever taken prescription drugs--such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax--without having a prescription from a doctor. The results showed that more students abuse prescription meds than cocaine, meth and ecstasy combined.

The Results

  • 26% of 12th graders reported abusing prescription drugs, compared to 15% of 9th graders.
  • Boys and girls were equally likely to report prescription drug abuse, at 20% each.
  • White students were mostly likely to abuse prescription drugs (23%), followed by Hispanics (17%) and black students (12%).
  • Other drug use: 72% of students reported using alcohol, 37% marijuana, 6.4% cocaine, 4.1% methamphetamine and 6.7% ecstasy.

Why Is This Important?

This is the first time the CDC's survey has contained a question about prescription drug abuse. Future surveys (the next is scheduled for 2011) will allow for a trend of prescription drug abuse among teens to emerge.

People often view prescription drugs as safer than illicit drugs, but they can be just as dangerous and addictive when used inappropriately. The fact that one-fifth of American high school student report prescription drug abuse is definitely a reason for concern.

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