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College Freshmen See Rx Drug Misuse More Risky Than Alcohol, Pot
Date:9/3/2008

And in 2007, a Partnership for a Drug-Free America survey of teenagers and their parents indicated that more than half of those teens that had tried such drugs viewed them as safer than so-called "street drugs."

To specifically gauge college student perceptions regarding non-medicinal use of prescription drugs, Arria and her colleagues analyzed data collected by the ongoing "College Life Study".

Between 2004 and 2006, just over 1,250 first-year undergraduate college students were interviewed to assess their inclinations toward attention-seeking behavior; their drug use history; and the relative degree to which they perceived prescription drugs (both analgesics and stimulants), alcohol, marijuana and cocaine to be harmful.

Six months later, the participants -- all of whom attended a "large public university in the mid-Atlantic region" that the authors described as ethnically diverse -- completed a Web-based follow-up survey. Six months after that, a second in-person interview was conducted.

While approximately a quarter of all the students expressed the view that occasional non-medicinal prescription drug use involves little or no risk, just over a quarter said they thought that such use of stimulants and analgesics entails a "great risk."

This risk perception fell far short of the danger the students attributed to the occasional use of cocaine, which more than 72 percent said involved similar "great risk."

However, unauthorized prescription drug use was thought to be more risky than smoking marijuana or drinking five or more alcoholic beverages each weekend -- each of which was described as similarly risky by approximately 7 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

When honing in on those students who said they had had an opportunity to use unauthorized prescription drugs, two out of three said they viewed such behavior as risky to some degree.

In sum, the authors concluded that -- contr
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