Teens and Prescription Drugs


A number of national studies and published reports indicate that the intentional abuse of prescription drugs, such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives, to get high is a growing concern—particularly among teens—in the United States.

In fact, among young people ages 12-17, prescription drugs have become the second most abused illegal drug, behind marijuana.

Though overall teen drug use is down nationwide and the percentage of teens abusing prescription drugs is still relatively low compared to marijuana use, there are troubling signs that teens view abusing prescription drugs as safer than illegal drugs and parents are unaware of the problem. This report examines this emerging threat by seeking to identify trends in the intentional abuse of prescription drugs among teens.

• Teens are turning away from street drugs and using prescription drugs to get high. New users of prescription drugs have caught up with new users of marijuana.

• Next to marijuana, the most common illegal drugs teens are using to get high are prescription medications.

• Teens are abusing prescription drugs because they believe the myth that these drugs provide a medically safe high.

• The majority of teens get prescription drugs easily and for free, often from friends or relatives. Girls are more likely than boys to intentionally abuse prescription drugs to get high.

• Pain relievers such as OxyContin and Vicodin are the most commonly abused prescription drugs by teens.

• Adolescents are more likely than young adults to become dependent on prescription medication.

This study can be read it its entirety here