August 4, 2009

12 percent of U.S. teens report opioid use

Some 12 percent of U.S. high school seniors say they have taken opioid drugs without a prescription for pain, relaxation or to get high, researchers said.

Sean Esteban McCabe of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and colleagues assessed survey responses from five consecutive groups of seniors at public and private high schools nationwide from 2002-2006.

The 12,441 students filled out questionnaires reporting whether they had used opioids such as morphine, opium or codeine for medical or non-medical reasons over the past year or ever in their lifetimes.

The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found 12.3 percent reported using prescription opioids for non-medical reasons in their lifetimes, while 8 percent reported having done so in the past year.

Fifty-six percent of the seniors said they took the drugs to relax or relieve tension, 54 percent said they took them to feel good or get high, 52 percent to experiment, 45 percent to relieve physical pain or 29 percent to have a good time with friends.