CLICK: For Immediate Release: June 3, 2010
Contact: CDC Division of Media Relations (404) 639-3286
One in 5 U.S. high school students say they have ever taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription, according to the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the first year the survey assessed prescription drug abuse among high school students. The YRBS has been conducted every other year since 1991.
The survey asked if they’d ever taken a prescription drug such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin, or Xanax, without a doctor’s prescription. Prescription drug abuse was most common among white students (23 percent), followed by Hispanic students (17 percent) and then black students (12 percent). Prescription drug abuse was most common among 12th grade students (26 percent) and lowest among 9th grade students (15 percent). There was no difference in prescription drug abuse by gender (20 percent for both male and female students).
“We are concerned to learn that so many high school students are taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them,” said Howell Wechsler, EdD, MPH, director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health. “Some people may falsely believe that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs, yet their misuse can cause serious adverse health effects, including addiction and death.”
The YRBS also asks several questions related to alcohol and drug use. The 2009 survey found that about 72 percent of high school students ever used alcohol, about 37 percent ever used marijuana, 6.4 percent ever used cocaine, 4.1 percent ever used methamphetamine, and 6.7 percent ever used ecstasy. These percentages are similar to those found in the 2007 survey.