Teens Raid Medicine Cabinets

Vicodin and OxyContin over teenagers
U.S. teenagers are increasingly trying prescription painkilling drugs such as Vicodin and OxyContin to get high, often raiding their parents' medicine cabinets, according to a study by a nonprofit anti-drug use group.

The 17th annual study on teen drug abuse, released Thursday morning, found that about one in five U.S. teenagers has abused a prescription painkiller — more than have experimented with either Ecstasy, cocaine, crack or LSD. One in 11 teens had abused over-the-counter products such as cough medicine, the study reported.

"The pain reliever number translates to about 4.3 million kids who have tried these products, outside of a doctor's recommendation, with the intention of getting high," Partnership for a Drug-Free America president Steve Pasierb told CBS radio affiliate WTOP.

"For the first time, our national study finds that today's teens are more likely to have abused a prescription painkiller to get high than they are to have experimented with a variety of illegal drugs," said Roy Bostock, the partnership's chairman.

According to the survey, the most popular prescription drug abused by teens was Vicodin, with 18 percent — or about 4.3 million youths — reporting they had used it to get high. OxyContin and drugs for attention-deficit disorder such as Ritalin/Adderall followed with one in 10 teens reporting they had tried them.

Fewer than half the teens — 48 percent — said they saw "great risk" in experimenting with prescription medicines. "Ease of access" was cited as a major factor in trying the medications.

"Access is one of the key issues, and access is in the parents' medicine cabinets, a friend's medicine cabinet, grandma, grandpa," said Pasierb. "These drugs are doing a lot of benefit in society, but what parents and folks to understand is they have to safeguard these drugs."