Report: 20% of high school students have abused prescription drugs

ATLANTA One-in-5 high school students have abused prescription drugs, according to a survey released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Results of the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated that 20% of high school students had taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription, such as OxyContin (oxycodone), Percocet (oxycodone, paracetamol and acetaminophen), Vicodin (acetaminophen and hydrocodone) or Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine).

Rates were highest among 12th graders, of whom 26% reported abuse, and lowest among ninth graders, at 15%. There was no statistically significant difference between boys and girls, though white students abused prescription drugs at the highest rate (23%), while black students abused them at the lowest rate (12%).

“We are concerned to learn that so many high school students are taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them,” CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health director Howell Wechsler said. “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.”

Abuse of illicit drugs and alcohol still dwarfed that of prescription drug abuse, with 72% of students reporting use of alcohol and 37% saying they’d used marijuana.

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