Some alarming data about kids and prescription drug abuse has been published in a new study.
Here are some highlights from drugfree.org.
Concerning Trends in Teen Prescription Drug Abuse According to the New PATS Data (2008-2012)
The new PATS data confirm that misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is now a normalized behavior among teens:
- One in four teens (24 percent) reports having misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime (up from 18 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2012), which translates to about 5 million teens. That is a 33 percent increase over a five-year period.
- Almost one in four teens (23 percent) say their parents don’t care as much if they are caught using Rx drugs without a doctor’s prescription, compared to getting caught with illegal drugs.
- Of those kids who said they abused Rx medications, one in five (20 percent) has done so before age 14.
- More than a quarter of teens (27 percent) mistakenly believe that misusing and abusing prescription drugs is safer than using street drugs.
- One-third of teens (33 percent) say they believe “it’s okay to use prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them to deal with an injury, illness or physical pain.”
Significant Increase in Teen Abuse of Stimulants Ritalin and Adderall, Rx Painkiller Abuse Flattening
Rx stimulants are a key area of concern, with misuse and abuse of Ritalin and Adderall in particular driving the noted increases in teen medicine abuse. Stimulants are a class of drugs that enhance brain activity and are commonly prescribed to treat health conditions including ADHD and obesity. The 2012 data found:
- One in eight teens (about 2.7 million) now reports having misused or abused the Rx stimulants Ritalin or Adderall at least once in their lifetime.
- 9 percent of teens (about 1.9 million) report having misused or abused the Rx stimulants Ritalin or Adderall in the past year (up from 6 percent in 2008) and 6 percent of teens (1.3 million) report abuse of Ritalin or Adderall in the past month (up from 4 percent in 2008).
- One in four teens (26 percent) believes that prescription drugs can be used as a study aid.
Parents’ Missed Opportunity: Lax Attitudes and Permissiveness About Rx Drugs Linked to Teen Abuse
Parent permissiveness and lax attitudes toward abuse and misuse of Rx medicines, coupled with teens’ ease of access to prescription medicines in the home, are key factors linked to teen medicine misuse and abuse. The availability of prescription drugs (in the family medicine cabinet, in the homes of friends and family) makes them that much easier to abuse. The new survey findings stress that teens are more likely to abuse Rx medicines if they think their parents “don’t care as much if they get caught using prescription drugs, without a doctor’s prescription, than they do if they get caught using illegal drugs.”
- Almost one-third of parents (29 percent) say they believe ADHD medication can improve a child’s academic or testing performance, even if the teen does not have ADHD.
- One in six parents (16 percent) believes that using prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs.
- Teens reported that during the last conversation they had with their parents regarding substance abuse, only 16 percent said they discussed the misuse or abuse of prescription pain relievers with their parents, and just 14 percent indicate the same for discussions about any type of prescription drug. In comparison, a majority of teens (81 percent) say they have discussed the risks of marijuana use with their parents, 80 percent have discussed alcohol and nearly one-third of teens (30 percent) have discussed crack/cocaine.
- More than half of teens (56 percent) indicate that it’s easy to get prescription drugs from their parent’s medicine cabinet. In fact, about half of parents (49 percent) say anyone can access their medicine cabinet.
- More than four in 10 teens (42 percent) who have misused or abused a prescription drug obtained it from their parent’s medicine cabinet. Almost half (49 percent) of teens who misuse or abuse Rx medicines obtained them from a friend.
Teens are more likely to use prescription drugs if they believe that their parents are more lenient toward prescription drug misuse or abuse compared to illegal drug abuse, and if their parents use drugs themselves.
- One in five parents (20 percent) report that they have given their teen a prescription drug that was not prescribed for them.
- The PATS survey also found that 17 percent of parents do not throw away expired medications, and 14 percent of parents say that they themselves have misused or abuse prescription drugs within the past year.
Educate yourself about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. It is a serious problem with very real consequences such as addiction and even death. Talk with your kids about prescription drug abuse. Be clear with them about the dangers and make it understood that you do not find it acceptable.