CDC: Many U.S. Teens Have Abused Prescription Drugs

Report finds that 23 percent of white, 17 percent of Hispanic high school students have done so
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- One in five students high school students in the United States has abused prescription drugs at some point, according to the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, released June 3 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey found that prescription drug abuse -- using a prescription drug without a doctor's prescription -- was highest among white students (23 percent), followed by Hispanic students (17 percent) and black students (12 percent). While there was no difference in prescription drug abuse by gender (20 percent in both male and female students), it was lowest among ninth-graders and highest among 12th-graders (15 versus 26 percent).

The survey also found that approximately 72 percent of students had used alcohol; 37 percent, marijuana; 6.4 percent, cocaine; 4.1 percent, methamphetamine; and 6.7 percent, ecstasy. The results indicate that many high school students engage in other risky behaviors with 19 percent reporting that they had smoked cigarettes within the 30 days prior to the survey. Riding in a vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking was reported by 28 percent, and 39 percent of currently sexually active students reported lack of condom use during their last sexual intercourse.

"We are concerned to learn that so many high school students are taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them," Howell Wechsler, director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health, said in a statement. "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."

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