Survey Finds Teenage Drug Abuse Jumped 33 Percent In Five Years

Brett Smith for – Your Universe Online

A newly released national survey found that the rate of teens that are abusing prescription drugs has jumped 33 percent over the past five years.

Published at, the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) found that 25 percent of teens have misused or abused a prescription drug at least once, a one-third increase since 2008. The study also found a troubling rise in the abuse of prescription stimulants. About 13 percent of teens report that they have taken Ritalin or Adderall when it was not prescribed for them.

Researchers also looked into parents attitudes toward prescription drug abuse and found evidence of permissive attitudes that could explain the uptick in teen abuse and misuse.

“These data make it very clear: the problem is real, the threat immediate and the situation is not poised to get better,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at “Parents fear drugs like cocaine or heroin and want to protect their kids. But the truth is that when misused and abused, medicines — especially stimulants and opioids — can be every bit as dangerous and harmful as illicit street drugs.”

“Medicine abuse is one of the most significant and preventable adolescent health problems facing our families today. As parents and caring adults, we need to take action to address the risks that intentional medicine abuse poses to the lives and the long-term health of our teens,” he said in a statement.

A deeper look into the survey results finds several concerning trends. Of the teens who said they have abused medications — 20 percent admitted to doing so before the age of 14. Twenty-seven percent of teens said they believe “misusing and abusing prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs,” and one-third said “it’s okay to use prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them to deal with an injury, illness or physical pain.”

The report also noted a significantly permissive attitude among parents toward the misuse of medications. While only 14 percent of teens surveyed said their parents had discussed the dangers of prescription drug abuse, 81 percent said they talked with their parents about the dangers of marijuana use and 80 percent have discussed alcohol abuse issues with their parents.

In the report, The Partnership noted an upcoming opportunity to stem the tide of prescription drug abuse by teens — the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which is sponsored by the DEA, takes place Saturday, April 27, 2013.

“Medicine cabinets are the number one access point for teens who want to misuse and abuse prescription drugs. That’s why we are making a concerted effort to let parents and caregivers know how important it is to safely dispose of their unused, unwanted or expired medicines,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, SVP of Government Affairs at The Partnership at “Doing so can literally save a life.”

Event organizers said they plan to collect unused prescription drugs at sites set up around the country, 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. In the five preceding Take-Back events, over 2 million pounds of prescription drugs were safely removed from circulation, according to The Partnership.