Study finds Rx abuse among teens is a big problem

August 5, 2013

More than a third of young people believe prescription stimulant abuse is a big problem among their peers, according to a new survey.

More than a third of young people believe prescription stimulant abuse is a big problem among their peers, according to a new survey.  

In addition, 15% of people 10 to 18 years old said they have used stimulants and 10% said they have diverted medications. Linda B. Cottler, PhD, MPH, chair of the Department of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine at the University of Florida, presented the findings at the recent College on Problems of Drug Dependence annual meeting.

University of Florida researchers interviewed 11,000 teens in Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, New York, and several other major cities. Of those surveyed, 7.5% said they had used stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin in the last month, with 3.9% saying they took the drugs for non-medical reasons.

The teens were shown photos of prescription drugs and prescription stimulants and asked if they knew what they were. Researchers asked if they used them, where they got them, how they got them, how often they took the drugs, and the reasons why they take the drugs.

When the pre-teens and teens were asked how they would prevent kids from using other people’s prescriptions, they suggested requiring fingerprint machines that would allow prescription bottles to open and requiring that teens have their medications dispensed at the pharmacy. Some teens said that diverting medications can’t be prevented.