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Michigan Ranks Among Top States In Teen Abuse Of Prescription Drugs

Armen Hareyan's picture

Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy urged parents to take action against the alarmingly high rate of teen prescription drug abuse in Michigan.

The latest research shows that Michigan has one of the highest rates of teen prescription drug abuse inthe country, as teens turn away from street drugs and use prescription drugs to get high.

At 12 percent, Michigan ranks as one of the top States in past-year prescription drug abuse among teens, who wrongly believe that they are safer to use than street drugs. And though abuse of pain relievers (8%) has declined slightly in the past few years among this group, the rate is still slightly higher than the national average (7%).

"Teen prescription drug abuse is on the rise, and Michigan is a hot spot. Teens mistakenly feel 'safer' abusing prescription drugs," said Scott Burns, Deputy Director for State, Local, and Tribal Affairs at ONDCP, speaking at a press conference. "And teens are not likely getting these pills from stereotypical drug dealers, but from relatives and friends."

Although millions of Americans benefit from the proper use of prescription drugs, they can be dangerous when taken without medical supervision or mixed with other drugs or alcohol. Teens who abuse prescription drugs to get high can suffer serious consequences including, addiction, strokes, seizures, comas, and even death.

"These are powerful drugs -- powerful healers if used as prescribed -- but dangerous to our Detroit youth if they're popping pills for a thrill," said Dr. Calvin Trent, Director of the Detroit Bureau of Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery. "Teens need to understand that abusing prescription drugs is risky, and parents need to realize that this is agrowing trend with young people today."

In the last five years, overall illicit drug use among teens has dropped by 23 percent nationally, but teen prescription drug abuse is an emerging concern. ONDCP recently released a White House Report, "Teens and Prescription Drugs: An Analysis of Recent Trends on the Emerging Drug Threat," outlining national trends which show that new users of prescription drugs have now caught up with new users of marijuana. Prescription drugs are now the second most commonly used drug teens use to get high, behind marijuana.

Teens say prescription drugs are not only accessible, but also easy to research and locate on the Internet. In fact, in Michigan and across the Nation, teens are using technology, such as the Internet and text messaging, to facilitate their drug use, and others are being exposed to drugs through other technologies, such as chat rooms and social networking sites. "Teens are using the Internet to 'get smart' about drug use," said Burns. "They feel empowered by the Internet. Parents cannot let new technologies and innovations get in the way of good parenting."

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Research shows that children who learn about these risks from their parents are less likely to use drugs, but only one third of parents say they have discussed the risks associated with the abuse of prescription drugs and cough and cold medicines with their teens.

ONDCP is calling on Michigan parents to educate themselves about the dangers of prescription drug abuse by taking some concrete steps to protect their teen:

-- Keep track of quantities of prescription drugs in your own home, and the homes of relatives;

-- Talk to the parents of your teen's friends and ensure they have the same policy in their home;

-- Discard old and unused prescriptions;

-- Set and enforce clear rules about drug use, including prescription drug abuse, and establish consequences for breaking the rules;

-- Tune into and learn about your teen's online activities, use of technology, and exposure to pro-drug messages; and

-- Be observant and look for indications that your child may be abusing prescription drugs.

Since its inception in 1998, the ONDCP's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has conducted outreach to millions of parents, teens, and communities to prevent and reduce teen drug use. Counting on an unprecedented blend of public and private partnerships, non-profit community service organizations, volunteerism, and youth-to-youth communications, the Campaign is designed to reach Americans of diverse backgrounds with effective anti-drug messages.