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20% of U.S. High Schoolers Abuse Prescription Drugs
Date:6/3/2010

Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said there are too many prescription drugs waiting to be abused.

"When prescription drugs are available in a home to the patient for whom they were prescribed, they are also available to the patient's teenager," he said.

Educating teens about the potential harms of prescription drugs, and including discussion of prescription medications in all drug control programs, is warranted, Katz said.

"Parental awareness, which this report helps cultivate, and vigilance will be more important still," he said. "But perhaps the ultimate solution to this problem is a more dedicated societal commitment to disease prevention and health promotion, so that fewer prescription drugs are in circulation, and available for such misuse."

The survey also asked about alcohol and drug abuse. In all, 72 percent of the students said they had used alcohol. Furthermore, 37 percent had used marijuana, 6.4 percent had used cocaine, 4.1 percent had used methamphetamine and 6.7 percent had used ecstasy.

These findings were basically the same as those in the last survey, which was done in 2007, the researchers noted.

On the bright side, high school students seemed to be eating better.

  • The number of students who drank a soda a day dropped, from 34 percent in 2007 to 29 percent in 2009.
  • More students ate fruit or 100 percent fruit juice (30 percent in 2005 and 34 percent in 2009).
  • Fewer students engaged in risky weight-loss diets, such as not eating, taking diet pills or vomiting or taking laxatives.

However, students are still engaging in other risky behaviors such as:

  • 78 percent had not eaten fruits or vegetables five or more times daily in the week before the survey.
  • 82 percent said they had not been physically active for at least an hour
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