Varied Results in Progress on Fighting Teen Prescription Drug Abuse
Results of the latest annual Monitoring the Future Survey show some positive trends, with abuse of
certain prescription drugs by younger teens dropping slightly, but also show cause for continued
concern regarding teen abuse of particular prescription drugs as well as synthetic cannabinoids.
Nearly 47,000 8th, 10th, and 12th-graders participated in the Survey, released December 14, 2011,
by the University of Michigan and the National Institute on Drug Abuse and results indicated that
2011 rates of 12th-grade students reporting non-medical use of any prescription drug remained
stable compared with 2010 rates. Abuse rates of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
medications Adderall® and Ritalin® by 12th-graders also remained stable, at 6.5% and 2.6%
respectively, and no declines were seen for rates of OxyContin® abuse by teens. The Survey did
however indicate a drop in abuse of Vicodin® among 8th and 10th-graders.
The Survey report authors surmise that media stories and related efforts to raise awareness about
prescription drug abuse dangers have had an impact among teens, possibly resulting in slightly
lower rates of abuse. The Survey also shows that teens’ perceived availability of narcotics other
than heroin, which would include prescription drugs such as Vicodin, has declined. A new question
added to the Survey in 2011 revealed that 11.4% of high school seniors, or one in nine, had used a
synthetic marijuana product in the past 12 months. The authors note that the students completed the
Survey shortly after federal law classified synthetic cannabinoids as Schedule I controlled
substances, and that next year’s Survey may reveal the impact of the law on abuse rates.
NCPIE encourages healthcare professionals and community groups to foster patient–professional communication about medicines. However, NCPIE does not supervise or endorse the activities of any group or professional. Discussion and action concerning medicines are solely the responsibility of the patient and their healthcare professionals, and not NCPIE.
Please consult a licensed health care professional with questions or concerns about your medication and/or condition.