Teen abuse and misuse of prescription drugs has increased by 33 percent nationally during the past four years, but improper use of prescription pain relievers — a serious public health concern in Ohio — might have peaked, according to survey findings released Tuesday by the Partnership at Drugfree.org and the MetLife Foundation.
The annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study found 24 percent of teens have abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime, up from 18 percent in 2008. The most popular prescription drugs of abuse were stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall. One in 8 teens reported having abused an “upper.”
Muskingum Behavioral Health Executive Director Steve Carrel said he’s not surprised by the figures and expects they actually are higher than reported.
“Generally speaking, the survey doesn’t surprise me a whole lot,” he said. “I think the general perception of the under-22 crowd is that if they see these ads on television, and doctors say they are safe or their parents are using them, they must be safe. I would venture to say the numbers are probably on the low side.”
He said where a generation or two ago there was a “perception of harm” surrounding drugs — that they were only to be used when administered by doctors — increased sales and marketing of prescription medications, the ease of getting hooked on pills at home and parents looking the other way have contributed to the prevalence of teen drug abuse.