High School Report: More Prescription Drug Abuse


The number of high school students abusing prescription drugs like Oxycontin is rising, and sedative abuse is at its highest in 26 years, says the latest version of the federal Monitoring the Future study, reports the New York Times. Asked whether they had used tranquilizers, barbiturates, or sedatives for nonmedical use in the last year, 14 percent of high school seniors, 11 percent of 10th graders, and 7 percent of 8th graders said yes. “If you told me heroin use was at 5 percent, most people would be very concerned,” said Prof. Lloyd Johnston of the University of Michigan, which conducts the survey for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “I’m not sure it’s a whole lot less dangerous that Oxycontin use is at that level. This is a drug that has great potential for overdose and for creating dependence.”

Teenagers have grown up in a world where it is routine to reach for a prescription bottle to enhance performance, to focus better in school or to stay awake, or calm down. The study, conducted since 1975, surveys a representative sample of about 50,000 students in 400 public and private schools. The number of students who reported using steroids or smoking marijuana, which the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy considers the gateway to other drug abuse, has gone down or held constant. Over all, the office said, 700,000 fewer students were using illicit drugs in 2005 than in 2001. “These are remarkable declines,” said John P. Walters, director of drug control policy. “Almost every single illegal drug is down, and some dramatically.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/20/national/20teen.html

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