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U.S. Teens Moving Away from Illicit Drugs, but Jump from the Frying Pan to the Fire

U.S teens have significantly cut down use of illicit drugs, but have turned to prescription painkillers, which are dangerous, say experts. //

Dr. Grant Mitchell, chief of psychiatry at Northern Westchester Hospital Center, in Mount Kisco, N.Y said, "This doesn't surprise me. As we write more and more prescriptions for potentially legitimate uses for parents, it provides access for kids. They don't have the same need to go out and procure illicit drugs."

The MTF survey has been an effort since 1975 by the researchers at the University of Michigan. The recent survey gathered data from 48,460 students belonging to 410 public and private schools, from classes eighth, 10th and 12th grades.

Marijuana use had reduced among all three grades between 2005 and 2006. The most significant decline was 36 percent, seen among eighth-graders, and close on the heels were the 10th-graders at 28%. There was an 18 percent reduction among high-school seniors. The use of alcohol also witnesses a substantial reduction.

But the news was like a mixed bag. It was also observed that the use of painkiller Vicodin maintained a high among all three grades. "Parents need to be aware that medicines prescribed to them and sitting around the house are a source for abuse for kids," Mitchell said.

The latest report, this year, has included the first national survey conducted on the indiscriminate use of cold or cough medicine which depicted that 4.2 percent of eighth-graders, 5.3 percent of 10th-graders and 6.9 percent of 12th-graders have been consuming cold or cough medicine. Researchers have expressed concern that such medicines when consumed in large amounts could spark off severe side effects.

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