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Prescription Drug Abuse: Young People at Risk

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Top Graph: Past Year Drug Abuse Among High School Seniors Graph. After marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter medications account for most of the past-year use of commonly abused drugs among high school seniors. Data for past-year use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines include the following: Vicodin (8%), Adderall (6.5%), Salvia (5.9%), Tranquilizers (5.6%), Cough Medicine (5.3%), OxyContin (4.9%), Sedatives (4/3%), and Ritalin (2.6%), a combined total of 37.2%. Data for past-year use of illicit drugs includes the following: Marijuana/Hashish (36.4%), Synthetic Marijuana (11.4%), Salvia (5.9%), MDMA (Ecstasy 5.3%), Hallucinogens (5.2%), Inhalants (3.2%), and Cocaine (any form, 2.9 %).

Bottom Left Image. About 1 in 9 youth or 11.4 percent of young people aged 12 to 25 used prescription drugs nonmedically within the past year. (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2010)

Bottom Right Graphic. Twenty-five percent of those who began abusing prescription drugs at age 13 or younger met clinical criteria for addiction sometime in their life. (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2010)

Related Publications

Publication Cover

Prescription Drug Abuse (Research Reports)

Published July 2001. Revised October 2011. Examines the non-medical use of prescription drugs—opioids, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants—describing adverse health effects of their use and the prevention and treatment of addiction. En Español

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications (DrugFacts)

Published June 2009. Revised September 2014. Provides an overview of commonly abused over the counter (OTC) medications and  prescription drugs—opioids, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants—and explains how they affect the brain, treatments available, and reported use. En Español

Cough and Cold Medicine Abuse (DrugFacts)

Revised May 2014. Provides facts about the abuse of cough syrups and other cold medicines, including their effects on the brain and dangers of using these products to get high.

Lessons from Prevention Research (DrugFacts)

Published February 2004. Revised March 2014. Describes principles important to consider when developing drug abuse prevention programs and discusses issues relevant for family, school, and community settings. En Español

Nationwide Trends (DrugFacts)

Published April 2011. Revised January 2014. Examines nationwide trends in drug abuse and addiction among youth, describing lifetime, past year and past month use for alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs. En Español

This page was last updated June 2012