One in Five U.S. Teenagers Has Abused Prescription Pain Medication, Study Finds
One in five U.S. teenagers has abused Vicodin, OxyContin or other prescription pain medications, according to a study released on Thursday by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the New York Post reports (Hoffmann, New York Post, 4/22). The 17th annual study of teen drug abuse surveyed more than 7,300 teens in grades seven through 12 (Howard Price, Washington Times, 4/22).
The study found:
- 4.3 million teens have abused Vicodin (Talan, Long Island Newsday, 4/21);
- 10% of teens, or 2.3 million, have abused OxyContin;
- 10% of teens have abused attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medications, such as Ritalin or Adderall;
- Almost 50% of teens said that that they believe abuse of prescription drugs is "much safer" than abuse of "street drugs";
- Teens cited "ease of access" as an important factor in prescription drug abuse;
- A majority of teens said they obtain prescription drugs from medicine cabinets in their homes or from the homes of their friends;
- Almost one-third of teens said that they believe prescription pain medications are not addictive;
- 37% of teens have abused marijuana, compared with 42% in 1998 (Washington Times, 4/22); and
- About 2.2 million teens have abused over-the-counter cough and cold medications that contain dextromethorphan (Long Island Newsday, 4/22).
Tom Hedrick, co-founder of Partnership, said, "As adults, we are always a little behind what the kids are doing, but this happened at the speed of light." Hedrick said that Partnership plans to launch an awareness campaign to address the issue of prescription drug abuse among teens (Long Island Newsday, 4/22).
Roy Bostock, chair of Partnership, said, "A new category of abuse is emerging in America: Increasingly, teenagers are getting high through the intentional abuse of medications. For the first time ... today's teens are more likely to have abused a prescription painkiller to get high than they are to have experimented with a variety of illicit drugs." He added, "In other words, 'Generation Rx' has arrived" (New York Post, 4/22).
The Partnership study is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the study.