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16 years old is peak risk for teens misusing prescription drugs
Date:5/7/2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. The peak risk for misusing prescription pain relievers occurs in mid-adolescence, specifically about 16 years old and earlier than many experts thought, according to a new study by Michigan State University researchers.

The results, based on recent nationwide surveys of nearly 120,000 U.S. adolescents, suggest prevention programs may need to be introduced earlier, in childhood and early adolescence, said James C. Anthony of MSU's Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Recent trends show clinicians and public health professionals are prescribing more pain relievers, and research suggests an increased misuse of these drugs and increased rates of overdose deaths, said Anthony, who supervised the research of postdoctoral fellow Elizabeth Meier and graduate student Jonathan Troost.

"While much of the previous thinking was that misuse of these drugs emerged in the final year of high school and during the college-age years, we found that for adolescents the peak risk of starting to misuse these painkillers generally occurs earlier, not during the postsecondary school years," Anthony said. "We suspect many physicians, other prescribing clinicians and public health professionals, will share our surprise in this finding."

The study, supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and MSU, was published today in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a network publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The team of researchers analyzed data from the 2004 through 2008 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health to identify when young people are most likely to start using prescription pain relievers to get high or for other unapproved uses. The results show about 1 in 60 young people between 12 and 21 years old starts using prescription pain relievers each year, outside the boundaries of what a prescriber has intended.

Peak risk is co
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Contact: Jason Cody
codyja@msu.edu
517-432-0924
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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