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Teen pill abuse down in Ohio

PILLS.jpgThere is evidence that Ohio’s efforts to curb prescription drug addiction among teens is working. Fewer than 12.8 percent of ninth through 12th graders reported using prescription painkillers without a doctor’s orders at least once during their life, according to the 2013 Ohio Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The number marks a 40 percent drop from the previous study, in 2011, when 21.3 percent of students said they had used painkillers without a prescription, according to this article.

But the state’s fight is far from over: many painkiller addicts are turning to heroin when their prescriptions run out or they can no longer afford to get the painkillers from dealers, leading to a surge in overdose deaths in the Greater Cincinnati area, the article notes.

From 2000 to 2011, Ohio’s death rate due to unintentional drug poisonings increased more than 350 percent, and the increase in deaths has been driven largely by prescription drug overdoses, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

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Pain pill prescriptions fueling teen addiction: study

teendrugsThere are many reasons why teenagers get hooked on prescription drugs, but new research conducted at the University of Michigan has found that those who are prescribed pain relievers are at “notable risk” for abusing opioid drugs.

A University of Michigan researcher found that teens may develop an increased tolerance to the medication, which can lead to continued use of the drug after the initial prescription is finished.

According to the researcher:

“Once an adolescent has been medically exposed to a potentially addictive medication, adolescents are more likely to engage in nonmedical use and diversion, including buying, selling and giving away pills.”

Earlier this year, a separate study found that one in four teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime – a 33% increase over the past five years – up from 18% in 2008.

Of those kids who said they abused prescription medications, one in five (20%) had done so before age 14, that survey found.

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Teen pill abuse up 33% since 2008: study

pill bottlesOne in four teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime – a 33% increase over the past five years – up from 18% in 2008, according to a new survey, The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), by the Partnership at and MetLife Foundation. That translates to about 5 million teens.

In addition, one in eight teens reported that at least once in their lifetime, they had taken the stimulants Ritalin or Adderall when those medications weren’t prescribed for them, the survey found.

Even more disturbing was the fact that almost one in four teens (23%) said their parents didn’t care as much if they were caught using prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription, as compared to getting caught with illegal drugs. And more than a quarter of teens (27%) mistakenly believed that misusing and abusing prescription drugs was safer than using street drugs, with 33% saying they believed it was “okay to use prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them to deal with an injury, illness or physical pain.”

Of those kids who said they abused prescription medications, one in five (20%) had done so before age 14, the survey found.

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Teen painkiller abuse up by 40%: study

The rate of prescription painkiller abuse among American youth is 40 percent higher than in previous generations, and is now the second most common type of illegal drug use after marijuana, according to a new study.

The study, which was published Oct. 16 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that prescription painkiller abuse led to a 129 percent increase in emergency department visits between 2004 and 2009, as well as a more than 500 percent increase in the number of people seeking treatment for addiction to prescription opioids between 1997 and 2007. There was also a threefold increase in accidental overdose deaths between the 1990s and 2007, according to the study.

The study comes a month after a separate survey found that while the number of young adults who reported using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the last month decreased slightly from 2 million to 1.7 million, pill abuse among children ages 12 to 17 and among adults 26 and older remained unchanged – and the number of people who reported heroin use in the past year rose from 373,000 in 2007 to 620,000 in 2011.

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Teen pill abuse spurs schools’ use of drug-sniffing dogs

Parental concerns over teens’ abuse of prescription drugs has prompted several California school districts to rely on drug-sniffing canines to detect the presence of pills. The police chief in one district that is considering using the dogs said OxyContin use has increased, leading more teens to turn to heroin as a cheaper replacement high.

In 2009, 7 million Americans aged 12 years and older abused prescription drugs for non-medical purposes within the past month, and every day, on average, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Read more about prescription drug addiction in teens here and here.

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New study links pills to rise in teen heroin addiction

Heroin use among young, white suburban users has risen dramatically over the last decade, fueled in part by an increase in addiction to prescription painkillers like OxyContin, a new study has found. In 2008, over 900,000 12-to-17 year olds began abusing prescription pain pills, and initiations to heroin have increased 80% since 2002, according to the study. There’s evidence, too, that pills are perceived as somehow “cleaner” or “safer” than hardcore street drugs like heroin: one-third of the study’s participants were dependent on opioid pills before transitioning to heroin, and “pill users’ perception of heroin use were softened (e.g. they were less scared to try it) once they realized the connection between opioid pills and heroin,” the study found. In addition, the majority of heroin interviewees “had little or no education regarding heroin use and dependency” – which is especially disturbing given that over 50% of heroin-dependent persons will be dead before the age of 50, the study says. And participants “reported relatively high disapproval of heroin use but comparatively low disapproval of using opiate pills…[they] were not necessarily clear about the linkage between opiate pills and heroin.”

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1 in 5 teens abusing pills: cause for celebration?

More than one in five teens who have been prescribed controlled medications like OxyContin end up misusing the drugs, and these kids are more likely than others to abuse other substances and to start giving or selling drugs to their peers, according to a new study on teens and controlled medications in the August issue of Archives of Pediatrics.

Disturbingly, instead of focusing on the fact that 18 percent of the nearly 3,000 teen respondents said they had used at least one prescribed controlled medication during the past year, the lead author of the study said it was important to note that the majority of secondary school kids who are prescribed opioids and other controlled medications don’t abuse them, according to this article in HealthDay News. “The field doesn’t want to go back to having so much fear associated with these medications that we then underprescribe them,” said Sean Esteban McCabe, according to the article.

I get the whole glass-half-empty-or-glass-half-full thing when evaluating statistics. But this type of thinking is the result of the push in the late 1990s by organizations like the American Pain Society to convince U.S. doctors that they weren’t adequately treating pain and were under-prescribing opioid pain medications due to a misguided fear of causing addiction. (For a fantastic sum-up of the history of the pain management movement, visit Dr. Jana Burson’s pain pill addiction blog.)

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Teens think prescription drugs are harder to come by

One in five teens may be using prescription drugs for recreational purposes, but according to a new survey on attitudes toward drug abuse, more teens believe prescription drugs are harder to obtain than in previous years.  According to the 22nd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, though abuse of painkillers such as OxyContin remains high, the number of teens using may be leveling off. Small gain though it is, increased awareness of prescription drug abuse in recent years may be having an effect.

Read about another recent survey monitoring teen drug use here.

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Teen pill abuse revealed, no holds barred, in CA town

In many communities, feelings of shame and outright denial prevent people from talking openly about the reality of prescription drug abuse – but some are breaking free of that mold.

Take the San Francisco suburb of Dublin, Calif., where a very real conversation on the subject of pill abuse happened when the police department held a community forum today on teens and prescription drugs, particularly OxyContin. Officer Eric Chaloner of the special investigations unit said it’s been tough to get some cops to realize that pills are just as dangerous as hard drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine – even though they’re constantly finding them in the cars of kids they pull over for driving offenses. The typical Oxy abuser profile, he said: a white, affluent, 16-to-23-year old individual whose car has multiple dents and burn marks on the interior upholstery and with stacks of lighters and pen tubes in the console, and perhaps most frighteningly, “whose family and friends are aware of their addiction, but oblivious to the severity of the problem.”

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Teens get involved in prescription abuse prevention

With prescription drug use skyrocketing among teens in the U.S., many groups are baffled when it comes to prevention techniques. But according to this article from, the Connecticut-based Community Coalition for Children has developed a novel concept: ask the teens for advice. As it turns out, they can offer valuable insight into the epidemic.

Read more about teen prescription drug abuse here.

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