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CDC Finds 1 in 5 High School Students Abuse Prescription Drugs

Posted Jun 03 2010 4:14pm

By Barbara Ficarra RN, BSN, MPA

Latest News Update


A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that one in five U.S. high school students have taken a prescription drug that they didn’t get from their doctor.

According to the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) that was released today from the CDC, the survey asked more than 16,000 high school students if they have ever taken  a prescription drug such as OxyContin, Percoset, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin and Xanax.

The YRBS survey found:

  • Prescription drug abuse was most common among white students (23 percent), followed by Hispanic students (17 percent) and then black students (12 percent).
  • Prescription drug abuse was most common among 12th grade students (26 percent) and lowest among 9th grade students (15 percent).
  • There was no difference in prescription drug abuse by gender (20 percent for both male and female students).

“We are concerned to learn that so many high school students are taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them,” said Howell Wechsler, EdD, MPH, director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health,  in a media news release. “Some people may falsely believe that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs, yet their misuse can cause serious adverse health effects, including addiction and death.”

More Info on Prescription Drug Abuse:

Opioid Abuse – Prescription Drug Abuse with Carl R. Sullivan, M.D.

Opioid Dependence

Do you have questions about teens and prescription drug abuse?  Let us know and we’ll have our expert in addiction medicine answer them.

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