July 30th, 2009
05:34 PM ET

Prescription drug use Q&A

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Program Note: For more on the state of prescription drug use (and abuse), tune in to AC360° tonight 10p ET.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America

Q: What age are teens abusing prescription drugs?

A: Kids as young as 12 are trying or using prescription drugs non-medically - to get high or for "self-medicating." Pharmaceuticals are often more available to 12 year olds than illicit drugs because they can be taken from the medicine cabinet at home, rather than marijuana which necessitates knowing someone who uses or sells the drug. Also, pills may have a perception of safety because they are easier to take than smoking pot or drinking alcohol and are professionally manufactured in a lab.

Q: What types of prescription drugs are teens abusing?

A: The National Survey on Drug Use and Health identifies 4 types of prescription medications that are commonly abused — pain relievers, stimulants, sedatives and tranquilizers. Eleven percent of teens (aged 12-17) reported lifetime non-medical use of pain relievers and four percent reported lifetime non-medical use of stimulants.

Q: Do different groups abuse different types of medications?

A: Yes. Painkillers are the most common pharmaceutical abused by teens, especially by younger teens. Stimulant abuse is more common among older teens and college students than younger teens. Girls are more likely to be current (past month) abusers of prescription medications than boys (4.3 vs. 3.6 percent). [Source: 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. ]


Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Deanna

    I live in Alabama and drugs are the bigger issue in the human race. The issue of pills is being focused on 12yr. old kids, not just 16yr old drivers. The census is to help better understand the problems our kids are have at an early age. I a 12yr old child thinks he or she can take a pill without their parents finding out, then when they start driving, they think they can drive and drink. I not saying our children in every household is doing this, but it is a national crisis. If it wasn't it wouldn't be the focus we are on. It is easier to not buy a fast car for our children, than not have meds in our cabinet? This is something we need to address the adult human race on, not just our kids. When your child gets to the age of being a licensed driver, they are not being in the home being close to us. This scares us, so we think this is the bigger issue. Why, because it is in out face and on our heart.The issue we are talking about is in our home, but now in our face? Drinking and driving is easier to get caught at? If this is soul, then I hold our law enforcement in high reguard for their great work. But this issue that we are talking about is one that starts at home. Maybe, the fast cars and drinking did to. I am not pointing this at anyone person first. This is something we all should look atr the Man in the Mirror. Could you sing these songs that he sang and no one really payed attention to what he was saying, that alone would make me want to take drugs. Not that I would, but the temptation would be in my mind. Did the song just sound good? Did the words not mean anything? I think it was meant to make us a better people, reguardless of who sang the song, the song touch our minds, our soul and our hearts. Maybe, we should think of what we can do as parents to stop these big issues from being big issues. As you can see their are bigger problems than pot.

    July 31, 2009 at 7:26 am |
  2. ralph

    Paul Harvey said that 75% of America's workforce goes to work on drugs. It's so easy just ask your doctor. Jackson is just doing what his TV has instructed and trained him to do. So really Jackson was taking drugs. So what if HE used aliases. Look at what our food does to us. Radiated veges and carbon dioxide poisoning. Let's go back to 1994 when 9 out of 10 chemists in the US where looking for a job. We would all be healthier. Clinton goes through Medicare in the late 90's and makes it solvent till at least 2025. Bush and the Republicans rip off American's with a deal for drug companies that puts medicare in it's current condition. Then we have the Federal Reserve money monopoly that is bent on stealing everything of value in the country. and here comes interest indexing for our 4 cent dollar.

    July 31, 2009 at 7:21 am |
  3. Bubba smith

    I'm bubba. I like fast chics and alcohol.

    July 31, 2009 at 2:43 am |
  4. Jacob Gordon

    Another thing... Stimulant medicatios, opiate painkillers, are used as commony as marajuana. People resort to these medications in rural areas because cocaine and heroin are unavailable. Im a 20 year old recovering addict, and I think prescriptions drug crackdowns would make be as big as dent in the war on drugs as eliminating Mexican cartels like La Familia

    July 31, 2009 at 2:02 am |
  5. Jacob Gordon


    Anderson it needs to be know that the painkiller market is as big as the cocaine or the heroin one. Its more accepted than harder drigs because its a 'prescription' but they reality the might as well be prescribing heroin. The north east is under a vicegrip on painkillers

    July 31, 2009 at 1:57 am |
  6. Donna Wood, Lil' Tennessee

    I agree Annie Kate. Same here in Tennessee. Alcohol and fast cars are definitely the biggest problem here as well. It's taken the lives of way too many here. Here drug use seems to be second only to the alcohol use.

    Donna Wood
    Lexington, Tennessee

    July 30, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  7. Annie Kate

    Prescription drug use may be rising but around here in Alabama the most abused substance remains alcohol. That and a fast car seem to be the biggest addiction among the youth here. And these are not only lethal for the child drinking and driving but to any poor victim that gets in their way.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:52 pm |