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Used as prescribed or directed, medicines improve our lives. When misused and abused, the consequences can be devastating, particularly among teens.  While some teens abuse medicine to party and get high, many are using medicine to manage stress or regulate their lives. Some are abusing prescription stimulants to provide additional energy and increase their ability to focus when they’re studying or taking tests. Others are abusing pain relievers, tranquilizers and over-the-counter cough medicine to cope with academic, social or emotional stress. Teens and other young adults don’t necessarily see this behavior as risky. Many believe that since medicine is created and tested in a scientific environment it is therefore safer to use than street drugs.

  • 1 in 4 teens reports having misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of teens who report abuse of prescription pain relievers are getting them from friends, family and acquaintances.
  • Nearly 80 percent of people who inject heroin start by abusing Rx drugs.
  • A recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 20% of teens have taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription. More often than not, these teens are getting their prescription drugs from their own family’s medicine cabinet. In fact, fifty-five percent often agree that it’s easy to get prescription drugs from their parent’s medicine cabinets.


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