Trends in Teen Prescription Drug Abuse (2008-2012)

* One in four teens (24 percent) reports having misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime (up from 18 percent in 2008), which translates to about 5 million teens. That is a 33 percent increase over a five-year period.

* Of those kids who said they abused Rx medications, one in five (20 percent) has done so before age 14.

* More than a quarter of teens (27 percent) mistakenly believe that misusing and abusing prescription drugs is safer than using street drugs.

* One-third of teens (33 percent) say they believe "it's OK to use prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them to deal with an injury, illness or physical pain."

* Almost one in four teens (23 percent) say their parents don't care as much if they are caught using Rx drugs without a doctor's prescription, compared to getting caught with illegal drugs.

Significant Increase in Teen Abuse of Stimulants Ritalin and Adderall, Rx Painkiller Abuse Flattening

* One in eight teens (about 2.7 million) now reports having misused or abused the Rx stimulants Ritalin or Adderall at least once in their lifetime.


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* 9 percent of teens (about 1.9 million) report having misused or abused the Rx stimulants Ritalin or Adderall in the past year (up from 6 percent in 2008) and 6 percent of teens (1.3 million) report abuse of Ritalin or Adderall in the past month (up from 4 percent in 2008).

* One in four teens (26 percent) believes that prescription drugs can be used as a study aid.

Parents' Missed Opportunity: Lax Attitudes and Permissiveness About Rx Drugs Linked to Teen Abuse

* Almost one-third of parents (29 percent) say they believe ADHD medication can improve a child's academic or testing performance, even if the teen does not have ADHD. ‚·One in six parents (16 percent) believes that using prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs.

* Teens reported that during the last conversation they had with their parents regarding substance abuse, only 16 percent said they discussed the misuse or abuse of prescription pain relievers with their parents, and just 14 percent indicate the same for discussions about any type of prescription drug. In comparison, a majority of teens (81 percent) say they have discussed the risks of marijuana use with their parents, 80 percent have discussed alcohol and nearly one-third of teens (30 percent) have discussed crack/cocaine.

* More than half of teens (56 percent) indicate that it's easy to get prescription drugs from their parents' medicine cabinet. In fact, about half of parents (49 percent) say anyone can access their medicine cabinet.

* More than four in 10 teens (42 percent) who have misused or abused a prescription drug obtained it from their parents' medicine cabinet. Almost half (49 percent) of teens who misuse or abuse Rx medicines obtained them from a friend.

* Teens are more likely to use prescription drugs if they believe that their parents are more lenient toward prescription drug misuse or abuse compared to illegal drug abuse, and if their parents use drugs themselves.

* One in five parents (20 percent) report that they have given their teen a prescription drug that was not prescribed for them.

* The PATS survey also found that 17 percent of parents do not throw away expired medications, and 14 percent of parents say that they themselves have misused or abused prescription¿ drugs within the past year.

Source: The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation, 2012 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study.