1-in-5 teens abuse prescription drugs, study finds

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by ERIKA EDWARDS / NBC

KING5.com

Posted on June 4, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

Prescription medications certainly have their place in society when used correctly and under a doctor's supervision, but they are also finding their way into schools, where an alarming number of high school students are recklessly abusing them.

Prescription drugs are easy to find and easy to hide.

And unlike marijuana or alcohol, they don't have a noticeable odor.

The Centers for Disease Control has released a survey that finds one out of every five high school students has abused a prescription drug at least once.

They're mostly misusing drugs to treat ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, like Adderall and Ritalin, or painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin.

Pharmacists say those heavy painkillers often contain high doses of acetaminophen.

Taking too much or combining it with other pills can quickly lead to liver damage or death.

Kids often get their drugs either from other students or unsuspecting parents.

"As a parent, I would want to make sure I cleaned out my medicine cabinet at home, that I made sure that any unused medications I had I would take out of the home," cautions Dr. Macary Marciniak.

Experts also suggest keeping track of the pills inside bottles to see if they're slowly disappearing from homes and quickly making their way into schools.

The survey found the problem was most common among white students and those in higher grades in high school.

Boys and girls were equally likely to abuse prescription drugs.

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