This week, new findings have been published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The results are based on two national surveys that asked 7,400 high school seniors between the years 2007 – 2009 about their use of prescription painkillers, including oxycontin and codeine… findings that could change the course of drug awareness in schools.
Among the results:
- 1-in-8 older U.S. teens has used painkiller drugs without prescriptions, and many of them start misusing the pills at age 16 or 17, earlier than what was previously assumed.
- 13% said they’d used prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons, to get high or relieve pain without a doctor’s supervision.
- Teens who said they had used the painkillers for non-medical purposes were more likely to smoke pot or cigarettes or to binge drink than those who took the pills under a doctor’s supervision or not at all.
- Most of the kids who misused the drugs had previously been prescribed them for a medical condition.
- Most teens who took up the habit started using painkillers at age 16 or 17 — not at the end of high school or afterwards, as previous research suggested.
- At age 16, one in 30 or 40 teens took their first painkillers for non-medical use.
Although researchers believe that oxycontin or related drugs should still be prescribed to young people who truly need them, educational programs alerting teens to the dangers of prescription painkiller abuse may now be starting earlier in high school.