Teen abuse of prescription, OTC drugs on the rise

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 5, 2006

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Abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications is a widespread behavior among today's teen population, according to a national study released May 16 by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

The partnership's 18th annual Attitude Tracking Study surveyed more than 7,300 teenagers in grades 7-12. Respondents indicated that teens are more likely to have abused OTC and prescription drugs, including prescription medications such as Vicodin and Oxycontin (oxycodone), than illegal drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine, crack or meth. Specifically, nearly one in five teens reports abusing prescription medications and one in 10 reports abusing cough medicine to get high.

The study also found that teens believe a key reason for abusing prescription pain relievers is their widespread availability and easy access. More than three in five teens said prescription pain relievers are easy to get from parents' medicine cabinets.

"There is a world of difference between good medicine and bad behavior," said Michael Maves, MD, MBA, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Medical Association as well as a partnership board member.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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