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When Teens Abuse Prescriptions, Addiction Often Follows
Date:8/1/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- More than one in five teens who have been prescribed a controlled medication such as Oxycontin for pain or Ritalin to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are misusing the drugs, a new study has found.

And these kids are more likely than others to abuse other substances and to start giving or selling drugs to their peers, the researchers said.

Still, it's important to remember that most kids do take their medications as prescribed, the team added.

"The fact that we can now say the majority of secondary school kids who are prescribed opioids and other controlled medications [do not abuse then] is important because the field doesn't want to go back to having so much fear associated with these medications that we then underprescribe them," stressed Sean Esteban McCabe, lead author of a study on teens and controlled medications appearing in the August issue of Archives of Pediatrics. "Some of these students are in school because they use their medications appropriately. If they didn't have access, they might not be in school."

McCabe is associate professor at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and at the Substance Abuse Research Center of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Nevertheless, the results are also a good argument for screening which kids should be prescribed these medications, or which should be monitored more stringently, said another expert.

"We need to have an understanding that misuse or diversion can occur, so we have to be able to screen people effectively for risk factors for substance abuse," said Dr. Howard Liu, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. "Parents also need to be able to control medications and that means securing or locking up controlled medications and also getting rid of them when they're no longer needed
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