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National Survey Confirms Teens Continue Abusing Medicines, Significant Progress Made in Other Forms of Teen Drug Use

'Bad Behavior' with Good Medicines Presents Urgent Risk

NEW YORK, Dec. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study (MTF) -- the largest survey on teen drug abuse tracking 50,000 8th, 10th and 12th graders -- underscores that the intentional abuse of prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, and other household products like inhalants, continues to be a pernicious problem among teens with an alarming number of young people abusing medicines and other household products.

According to the survey, 9 percent of 12th graders intentionally abused prescription narcotics in 2006.  This year nonmedical use of OxyContin is at 4.3 percent for 12th graders, while use of this prescription pain reliever peaked in 2006 for 8th graders (2.6 percent) and 10th graders (3.8 percent). Nonmedical use of Vicodin among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders is at 3 percent, 7 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively. This year, the abuse of sedatives, including barbiturates, among 12th graders is at near-peak levels of 6.6 percent rising significantly from 2.8 percent in 1993.

In 2006, the MTF study included a new question on the use of OTC cough or cold medicines, containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan, or DXM, for the explicit purpose of getting high.  Nonmedical use of cough medicine among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders is at 4 percent, 5 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

"The MTF study confirms that the intentional abuse of medications is a real, pervasive problem that unfortunately has become a far too normal part of many teens' lives," said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership. "Teens and parents alike have a false sense of security that these products can be safely abused because they are otherwise beneficial medicines found in the home.  The sobering truth is that when medicines are abused, they can be every bit as dangerous, as addictive, and just as deadly as 'street drugs.' In the many studies the Partnership has conducted, teens reported that their own medicine cabinet is a prime source for the products being intentionally abused.

Pasierb said parents must take three key steps:  educating themselves about the dangers of medicine abuse and dispelling any erroneous notions that this is somehow a safer alternative to illegal drug use; communicating with their children the risks of intentionally abusing medicine to get high, and safeguarding prescription and over-the-counter medicines that can be potentially abused in their home.

Parental Involvement, Media Messages are Major Factors in Recent Decline in Teen Use of Illegal Drugs

Successive years of progress have led to a significant decline in the abuse of illicit drugs by the teen population.  The MTF study shows a decline in overall teen drug use for the fourth straight year.  The percentage of teens saying they used any illicit drug in the past year continued to decline in 2006 and the rates (15 percent, 29 percent and 37 percent in 8th, 10th and 12th grades respectively) are now down from peak levels in the mid 1990s by about one third in 8th grade, one quarter in 10th grade and one eighth in 12th grade.

"While the progress marked by MTF should give everyone reason for hope, it is clear that the current drug culture is vastly different from when parents were teens themselves," said Pasierb.   "Today's teens have gone from abusing street drugs to getting high from products they easily find at home. Communication between parents and kids is the most effective prevention tool when it comes to protecting your teen from abusing medications. Kids who report learning 'a lot' about the dangers of drugs at home are up to 50 percent less likely to use illicit drugs."

The Partnership continues to focus its efforts on motivating and empowering parents with the resources and tools they need to help protect their children from drug abuse. Earlier this year, the Partnership launched a ground-breaking, multi-media education campaign to help parents respond to the ever-changing drug landscape and help them prevent the abuse of medicines in their families.  For more information on how to prevent abuse of medicines please visit http://www.drugfree.org/ or download the brochure "Getting High on Prescription and Over-The-Counter Drugs is Dangerous" at www.drugfree.org/Files/rx_guide. To learn more on how to prevent abuse of cough medicine please visit http://www.drugfree.org/dxm and download the brochure "Preventing Teen Cough Medicine Abuse." For tips on how to prevent inhalant abuse, visit http://www.drugfree.org/inhalants.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America(R) is a private, non-profit coalition of professionals from the communications industry.  Best known for its national, drug-education advertising campaign, the Partnership's mission is to reduce illicit drug use in America.  The Partnership's State/City Alliance Program supports the Partnership's mission at the local level.  The Partnership receives major funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and financial support from more than 200 private sector corporations.  The Partnership accepts no money from alcohol or tobacco manufacturers. All actors in the Partnership's ads appear pro bono through the generosity of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Source: The Partnership for a Drug-Free America

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