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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ten Percent of Teens Misuse Prescription Drugs

In the last year, ten percent of 14 to 20-year-olds seen in the emergency room for any reason say they have misused prescription drugs, a new study finds. While this percentage seems small, it is enough to raise concern among health officials.

Researchers at the University of Michigan determined that the majority of prescription drugs misused by teens were, in fact, other people’s medications. The study found that teens who misused prescription drugs were much more likely to abuse alcohol and non-prescription drugs such as cough medicine or marijuana, in the past year.

Study authors point out that this is the first report to look at teens abusing prescription drugs in an emergency room setting, despite emergency rooms being a common place to acquire opioids and sedatives, Psych Central reports.

School-based studies often leave out high school dropouts in their findings, which has an impact on the numbers for the age group. Such studies have found rates of prescription drug misuse among young people to be around 8 percent, the article notes.

The lead author of the new study, Lauren Whiteside, M.D., believes emergency departments could be an effective place to screen for prescription drug misuse for the age group and for intervening. “These patients are often using the emergency department for their medical care, not primary care settings,” she noted in a news release. “So, in order to curb this problem and address overdose and addiction, the ED is a good place to start.”

The findings appear in the journal Pediatrics.
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