U.S. News & World Report
By Steven Reinberg
June 3, 2010
One in five high school students in the United States has taken a prescription medication that was not prescribed for them, a new survey shows.
Conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the survey covers a variety of risky behaviors among American youth.
“We are very concerned that 20 percent of high school students are reporting this behavior,” said survey author Danice K. Eaton, a research scientist at the CDC. “It can be dangerous to take a prescription drug that hasn’t been prescribed to you.”
Studies have shown that taking non-prescribed prescription drugs can lead to overdose, addiction and death, Eaton explained. “Taking a prescription drug that hasn’t been prescribed to you is a health risk behavior,” she said.
In the survey, 16,460 high school students were asked if they had ever taken prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax, without a doctor’s prescription.
The abuse of prescription drugs was widest among whites at 23 percent, followed by Hispanics at 17 percent, and black students at 12 percent.
In addition, the abuse of prescription drugs was most common among 12th graders (26 percent) and lowest among ninth graders (15 percent), the researchers found. But, prescription drug abuse was the same for boys and girls, at 20 percent.