Survey Shows Widespread Adolescent Rx Abuse

Parents of teens today may have more to worry about than finding a marijuana joint in their son or daughter’s back pocket. The U.S. prescription drug epidemic is filtering down to young adults, with recent figures showing as many as 10 percent of adolescents using prescription drugs recreationally. According to a recent iTech Post article, kids who abuse prescription drugs are at a higher risk of other substance abuse issues and are more apt to engage in additional risky behaviors. A study originating from the University of Florida, Gainesville showed that teens who abuse prescription medications were 17 times more likely to use steroids than their peers. They were also 14 times more likely to use heroin and 11 times more likely to smoke pot. The findings came from a cross-sectional survey conducted by Robert F. Weiler, MD, and colleagues, which polled more than 4,000 high school students including students of every grade level from freshmen to seniors. The results also showed that within the 30 days prior to the study, students who had at some point abused prescription drugs were more likely to have brought a weapon to school, participated in binge drinking, driven drunk on school grounds, and smoked marijuana at school. These students were also at higher likelihood of engaging in lifetime cocaine use and had a greater chance of participating in promiscuous sex in the three months preceding the survey. The study further revealed a link between being bullied at school and the use of prescription drugs – those who abused prescription medications were about 60 percent more likely to have been bullied at school than their peers. While researchers do not conclude that bullying causes non-medical prescription use, they say the overall findings underscore the need to improve prevention and treatment plans for this type of substance abuse.

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