From Our 2010 Archives
Survey Reveals Rx Drug Abuse by Teens
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Study Shows Many High School Students Use Ritalin, Xanax, or OxyContin Without a Prescription
Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD
June 3, 2010 -- Just over one in five high school students in the U.S. admits to having taken a prescription drug without a doctor's prescription, the CDC says in its National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
Last year was the first time the survey, which has been conducted every other year since 1991, has assessed prescription drug abuse among high school students. The CDC says it found that 20.2% of high school students said they had taken a drug such as Ritalin, Xanax, or OxyContin without having a doctor's prescription.
The survey of more than 16,000 youths found that:
"We are concerned to learn that so many high school students are taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them," Howell Wechsler, EdD, MPH, director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health, says in a 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."
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
The survey asked a number of questions related to drug and alcohol use in its 2009 tally.
It found that:
Those percentages were similar to those found in 2007.
Other answers revealed what CDC called "encouraging trends" in nutrition-related behaviors in recent years. For example, in 2009:
Risky Teen Behavior
The survey found that many high school students engage in behaviors that increase their likelihood for the leading causes of death among young people between 10 and 24. It found that in the 30 days prior to being asked:
The survey also showed that many high school students engage in behaviors that are associated with the leading causes of death among adults 25 and over. In 2009:
The study said that since 1991, the prevalence of many health-risk behaviors among high school students had decreased, but that many continue to engage in activities or behaviors that place them at risk for the leading causes of death and sickness.
The researchers conclude that their findings indicate a need for monitoring of behaviors of high school students.
SOURCES: News release, CDC.