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Generation Rx? Teens abusing prescriptions

April 21, 2005
By admin

Report: More youth getting high on painkillers than on illegal drugs

The Associated Press
Updated: 1:44 p.m. ET April 21, 2005

NEW YORK – About one in five teenagers have tried prescription
painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin to get high, with the
pill-popping members of “Generation Rx” often raiding their parents’
medicine cabinets, according to a study by the Partnership for a
Drug-Free America.

The 17th annual study on teen drug abuse, released Thursday, found that
more teens had abused a prescription painkiller in 2004 than Ecstasy,
cocaine, crack or LSD. One in 11 teens had abused over-the-counter
products such as cough medicine, the study reported.

“For the first time, our national study finds that today’s teens are more
likely to have abused a prescription painkiller to get high than they are
to have experimented with a variety of illegal drugs,” said Partnership
Chairman Roy Bostock. “In other words, Generation Rx has arrived.”

Vicodin most popular drug
According to the study, the most popular prescription drug abused by
teens was Vicodin, with 18 percent — or about 4.3 million youths —
reporting they had used it to get high. OxyContin and drugs for
attention-deficit disorder such as Ritalin/Adderall followed with one in
10 teens reporting they had tried them.

Fewer than half the teens — 48 percent — said they saw “great risk” in
experimenting with prescription medicines. “Ease of access” was cited as
a major factor in trying the medications, with medicine cabinets at home
or at friends’ homes a likely source, the survey found.

It was only the second year that the survey had studied abuse of legal
drugs. In 2003, the Partnership grouped together three prescription pain
relievers: Vicodin, OxyContin and Tylox, and found that 20 percent of
teens had tried them.

The 2004 study looked at Vicodin and OxyContin separately but excluded
Tylox, and found that 18 percent had tried Vicodin and 10 percent had
used OxyContin. The 2004 figures indicated the same or a slight increase
in use compared with 2003, said Barbara Delaney, director of research at
the Partnership.

For the first time, the 2004 survey included a question about the use of
over-the-counter products to get high. Nine percent, or about 2.2 million
teens, had experimented with cough syrup and other such products, the
survey reported.

It also found that the number of teens reporting marijuana use declined
to 37 percent last year, compared with 42 percent a half-dozen years
earlier. Over the same amount of time, ecstasy use declined from 12
percent to 9 percent, while methamphetamine use dropped from 12 percent
to 8 percent.

‘A wake-up call to parents’
A University of Michigan study released in December also noted the
apparent growing popularity of OyxContin among teens. Dr. Mitchell
Rosenthal, head of the Phoenix House drug treatment facility, said his
agency has watched the use of painkillers by adolescents rise in recent
years.

“Adolescents find the line between drugs that do good for you and drugs
that make you feel good becoming fuzzier every year,” said Rosenthal,
whose non-profit organization treats 6,000 patients in nine states. “This
is a wake-up call to parents.”

The 2004 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study surveyed more than 7,300
teens, the largest ongoing analysis of teen drug-related attitudes toward
drugs in the country. Its margin of error is plus or minus 1.5 percent.

The 2004 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study surveyed more than 7,300
teens, the largest ongoing analysis of teen drug-related attitudes toward
drugs in the country. Its margin of error is plus or minus 1.5 percent.

The nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free America was launched in 1987.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
© 2005 MSNBC.com

OPERATION LOOKOUT is offering this news report with thanks and credit to
MSNBC.com and The Associated Press as a public service to further
education of teens and parents. This report is 2005 copyrighted under
MSNBC.com and The Associated Press.

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