At one time in our lives, we have all used prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines to alleviate an illness - whether to relieve pain or to curb a cough. While opioid overdose rates remain high among adults, the results of the 2017 Monitoring the Future Survey indicates that teens use of most illegal drugs is way down, except for marijuana, which is staying about the same. However, teens are vaping more often than before, and their use of inhalants has slightly increased.
Those are some of the findings from the latest Monitoring the Future survey. The good news is that teens' use of illegal drugs (other than marijuana and inhalants) continues to decrease. It is now the lowest in the history of the survey in all three grades. Teens are misusing opioid pain medications less than they did 10 years ago. Misuse of all pain medications, including over-the-counter medicines, has also dropped since 2004. Misuse of the opioid pain reliever Vicodin among high school seniors dropped to its lowest point since the survey began measuring it in 2002, and is now at just 2 percent. This reflects a long-term decline from a peak of 10.5 percent in 2003.
In overall pain medication misuse, described as "narcotics other than heroin" in the survey, past year misuse has dropped significantly among 12th graders since its survey peak in 2004-to 4.2 percent from 9.5 percent. Interestingly, teens also think these drugs are not as easy to get as they used to be. Only 35.8 percent of 12th graders said they were easily available in the 2017 survey, compared to more than 54 percent in 2010.
Reflecting a historic low, high school seniors reported past year misuse of the prescription opioid Oxycontin at 2.7 percent, compared to 5.5 percent in 2005. Misuse of prescription stimulants, commonly prescribed for ADHD symptoms, is stable compared to last year, with 5.5 percent of 12th graders reporting past year misuse of Adderall. This represents a significant drop for this age group from five years ago when misuse peaked at 7.6 percent. Past year misuse of the therapeutic stimulant Ritalin among 12th graders is at 1.3 percent, nearly a record low since 2001 when it was first measured at 5.1 percent. There was also a decline among eighth graders' past year misuse, reported at 0.4 percent in 2017, and significantly down from 2.9 percent in 2001.
The decline in both the misuse and perceived availability of opioid medications is excellent. It is critical that we, as a community, continue to intervene with evidence-based efforts to prevent youth from using these products. However, with each new class of teens entering the challenging years of middle and high school, we must remain vigilant in our prevention efforts targeting young people, parents and other adults who influence them, and the health care providers who treat them.
It is up to each one of us to take action against medicine abuse and there is no better place to start than in our own homes.
ns and young adults who do report abuse of prescription medicine continue to get it from friends, family and acquaintances. Make sure the young people in your life don't have access to your medicine to begin with. Remember to monitor, secure and properly dispose of unused and expired medicine in your home.
Parents and other caregivers have an incredibly important role to play. We can all take action by having frequent conversations with the teens and young adults in our lives about the dangers of medicine abuse. CASAC is deeply committed to helping our area youth by using prevention education as a key driver to reduce misuse, and ultimately, addiction to any drug, including prescription medication.