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Teen Abuse of Prescription Drugs: How Many Teens Are Doing It? What Are the Risks? What Should Pare

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According to research conducted by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (as well as other reputable national studies) as many as one in five teens say they have taken a prescription drug without having a prescription for it. This behavior cuts across geographic, racial, ethnic and socioeconomic boundaries.

Why are some teens abusing prescription drugs? For a variety of reasons. To party and get high, in some cases, but also to manage or regulate their lives. Theyre abusing some prescription stimulants (such as Ritalin and Adderall)to give them additional energy and ability to focus when they’re studying or taking tests. They’re abusing prescription pain relievers (like OxyContin) and tranquilizers such as (Xanax) to cope with academic, social or emotional stress. They’re abusing prescription amphetamines to lose weight, or prescription steroids to bulk up.

Our research shows that parents are not communicating the risks of prescription drug abuse to their teens as often as they talk about illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin.

This is partly because some parents are unaware of the behavior (it wasn’t as prevalent when they were teenagers), and partly because those who are aware of teen abuse of prescription drugs tend to underestimate the risks just as teens do.

In addition, a recent study by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids showed that 28% of parents have themselves taken a prescription drug without having a prescription for it themselves. This is not necessarily abuse, but it sets a dangerous example for kids that the recommended dosage of prescriptions need not be strictly followed.

Take a few minutes and learn more about Teen Abuse of Prescription Drugs.Find out where teens are getting prescription drugs; the short and long-term risks for abusing them; and what parents can do about this behavior in our Fact Sheet: Preventing Teen Abuse of Prescription Drugs (pdf).

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