ATLANTA, June 3 (UPI) -- Twenty percent of U.S. high school students say they have taken a prescription drug without a doctor's prescription at least once, health officials say.
Howell Wechsler, director of Centers and Disease Control and Prevention's division of adolescent and school health, used data from the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The survey asked some 16,000 U.S. high school students if they had ever taken OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax, without a doctor's prescription.
Twenty-three percent of white students say they used prescription drug without a doctor's prescription, followed by 17 percent of Hispanics and 12 percent of African-Americans.
Twenty-six percent of high-school seniors say they took a prescription drug without a doctor's prescription, compared to 15 percent of high-school freshmen.
"We are concerned to learn that so many high school students are taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them," Wechsler says in a statement. "Some people may falsely believe that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs, yet their misuse can cause serious adverse health effects, including addiction and death."