According to recent surveys, while the abuse of illegal drugs is on the decline, statistics on teen abuse of legal drugs show a disturbing trend:
-- One in three teens reports having a close friend who abuses prescription pain relievers to get high.
-- One in four has a close friend who abuses over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine to get high. -- Nearly one in five teens has used a prescription medication that was not prescribed to them. While the abuse of illegal drugs is on the decline, SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that teen abuse of legal drugs is on the rise:
-- In 2009, one in ten kids between the ages of 12 to 17 had used illicit drugs in the past month, including 3.3 percent who had used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons.
-- Among youth between the ages of 12 to 17, male and female adolescents had similar rates of past month non-medical use of prescription-type psychotherapeutics (3.1 percent of males and 3.5 percent of females).
-- Most kids who abuse pain relievers obtained the drugs from a friend or relative for free, while about 10 percent took the pain relievers from a friend or relative without asking.
-- New youth abusers of prescription drugs now outnumber new users of every illicit drug, except marijuana.
"The rise in medicine abuse, both prescription and OTC, requires action, and that is why we have worked with the manufacturers of these medicines and our own experts in developing this new curriculum," noted Charlie Parsons, President and Chief Executive Officer of D.A.R.E America.
The new curriculum is being incorporated around the country into D.A.R.E.'s law enforcement officer-led classes.
The abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medicines was found to be a problem that often begins at home, highlighting the importance of informing parents of the need to appropriately discard medications past their period of intended use.
Moreover, the survey found that the majority of the legal prescription drugs abused by teenagers were obtained from within their homes or from the homes of friends or relatives.