Study shows prescription drug abuse in high schools

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - At least one in 5 high school students in the United States have taken prescription drugs without the prescription. This is according to the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

The study was released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the first year that the survey has assessed prescription drug abuse amount high school students. The YRBS has been conducted every other year since 1991.

The most common drugs asked about in the survey were OxyCotin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax. White students made up 23%, with Hispanic students following at 17%. Last were black students at 12%.

Prescription drug abuse was the highest among 12th graders with 26%. 9th grades made up 15% of the survey. Gender was not a factor in drug abuse either, with both men and women having 20%.

"We are concerned to learn that so many high school students are taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them," said Howell Wechsler, EdD, MPH, director of CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health.

The YRBS also questioned students about alcohol and other drugs. Surprisingly, 72% of students have drank alcohol, about 37% have smoked marijuana, 6.4% have used cocaine, 4.1% have done methamphetamine, and 6.7% have taken ecstasy. These numbers are similar to the 2007 YRBS.

The YRBS also asks several questions related to alcohol and drug use.  The 2009 survey found that about 72 percent of high school students ever used alcohol, about 37 percent ever used marijuana, 6.4 percent ever used cocaine, 4.1 percent ever used methamphetamine, and 6.7 percent ever used ecstasy.  These percentages are similar to those found in the 2007 survey.

There has been a decrease in drinking at least one soda a day. Decreases have also been seen in taking diet pills, powders, or liquids, vomiting, or taking laxatives to lose or keep from gaining weight.

There are other factors that were asked on the survey that are a risk to high school students health. In the days leading up to the survey, 78% of students did not eat fruits or vegetables five times a day.

82% were not physically active for an hour a day. People who rode in cars where the driver was under the influence of a drug or alcohol was 28%. Students who were sexually active and did not use a condom had a percentage of 39.