1-in-4 U.S. teens misused or abused a prescription drug

April 23, 2013 at 1:32 PM
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NEW YORK, April 23 (UPI) -- One-in-four U.S. teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once -- a 33 percent increase in the past five years, experts say.

A survey by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation also found 1-in-8 U.S. teens reported taking the stimulants Ritalin or Adderall not prescribed for them at least once.

Parent permissiveness and lax attitudes toward abuse and misuse of prescription medicines, coupled with teens' ease of access to prescription medicines in the home -- often from unused medications in medicine cabinets -- are key factors linked to teen medicine misuse and abuse.

Nearly a third of U.S. parents said they believe prescription stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall, normally prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, could improve a teen's academic performance even if the teen did not have ADHD.

Of the children who said they abused prescription medications, 20 percent said they had done so before the age of 14.

More 27 percent mistakenly believe "misusing and abusing prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs," and a third agreed "it's OK to use prescription drugs not prescribed to them to deal with an injury, illness or physical pain."

The 24th annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study of 3,884 U.S. teens in grades 9-12 and 817 parents has a margin of error for the teen sample of 2.1 percentage points while the margin in the parents' sample was 3.4 percentage points.

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