Prescription Drug Abuse Among US Teens Alarmingly High : NIDA

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According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) annual survey, Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF) of 2009, the number of high school students reporting prescription drug abuse in the US continues to be high, while the use of other illicit drugs decreases. Major usage trends among US teens include a significant decrease in methamphetamine use, stalled declines of marijuana use, and consistently high abuse of prescription drugs.Findings, released yesterday December 14th 2009 at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., were announced by President Obama’s so-named drug czar Gil Kerlikowske ( Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF) is a series of classroom surveys of 8th, 10th and 12th grade students across the US. In all, researchers from the University of Michigan, under a grant from NIDA, surveyed 46,097 students from 389 public and private schools.The number of high school students reporting past year use of methamphetamine in 2009 was at its lowest since 1999, when questions regarding the drug were first added to the survey. In 1999, 4.7 percent of students reported having used methamphetamine in the 12 preceding months. In 2009, this number is now at 1.2 percent of students.Smoking tobacco was also at its lowest rate in the MTF’s history across all grades.The past year use of cocaine also decreased, to 3.4 percent of 12th grade students—down an entire percentage point from the 2008 survey. Hallucinogen use also decreased in the last year, down over a percentage point to 4.7 percent of 12th graders.The perceived harmfulness, a factor in determining future drug addiction and abuse, of LSD, amphetamines, sedatives/barbiturates, heroin, and cocaine all increased, while the perceived availability of many of these illicit drugs decreased significantly—both good signs.However, marijuana use across all three grades, having showed a consistent downward trend since the mid-1990s, seems to have stalled in 2009. Rates of marijuana use among the high school students were the same as five years ago, with about 32.8 percent of 12th graders, 26.7 percent of 10th graders, and 11.8 percent of 8th graders all reporting past year use of the drug.Nevertheless, this is still significantly lower than in the mid-1990s.Furthermore, slightly more than half the students, about 55.2 percent, did not perceive the occasional use of marijuana as potentially harmful.There is also a continued high rate of the non-medical use of prescription drugs and cough syrup among US teens. Seven of the top 10 drugs abused by 12th grade students, for example, in the past year were either prescribed or bought over the counter. Furthermore, about 10 percent of students reported non-medical use of Vicodin, and five percent non-medical Oxycontin use. Finally, more than five percent of 10th and 12th grade students also reported non-medical use of Adderall.Non-medical use of these painkillers has increased among 10th graders in the past five years.The 2009 MTF also measured how students obtained their prescription drugs, a recent addition to the survey. Researchers found that 19 percent of 12th grade students reported to have obtained their prescription drugs with a doctor’s prescription, eight percent from a dealer, and 66 percent reported having obtained the drugs from a friend or relative. Of this last group, 12 percent reported that they “took them, 21 percent that they “bought them”, and 33 percent that they were “given them”. The Internet does not appear to be a major source for these drugs.Teen prescription drug abuse has been a very hot topic as of late, attracting much media attention. NIDA’s survey points to this generation’s apparent preference for prescription medication for those in search of a high, serving to highlight where policymakers, educators, counsellors, and parents need to focus their attention and preventative measures—before it’s too late.Results can be viewed at the Monitoring the Future website: NIDA

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Prescription Drug Abuse Among US Teens Alarmingly High : NIDA

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