Prescription Drug Abuse Up Among Teens

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

December 19, 2005

Teenagers looking to get high are turning away from marijuana and turning toward what's stored in most homes: prescription drugs.

It's become a popular way for teenagers to get high. These aren't drug kids can get on the streets; they're drugs they can find right inside their medicine cabinet.

"We're seeing a significant rate of abusive prescription medications. What are the problematic prescription medications? Number 1 painkillers," said Nora D. Volkow, M.D., of the National Institute Drug on Abuse.

In a news conference, the National Institute on Drug Abuse presented the results of their study. They call the results 'disturbing.'

Of children in 8th, 10th and 12th grades almost 10 percent reported that they have used Vicodin and over five percent have tried Oxycontin in the past year. Teens said it's "very easy" to get and they know it can be dangerous, especially at such a young age.

"In the period of the life of an individual when they are most vulnerable, when the use of drugs is likely to lead to the most serious problems, including addiction," said Volkow.

But, teenagers are taking a hint when it comes to smoking. There is a decline in the amount of teenagers willing to light up. The Institute said it's good news, since smoking is the most preventable cause of disease.

"This will translate of course, in a decrease in medical conditions associated with the use of cigarette smoking," said Volkow. It is something that so often starts during the teenage years.

The study surveyed about 50,000 students in both public and private schools.

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