(NaturalNews) Prescription drug abuse among teenagers has become so prevalent in recent years that one in five high school students report having illicitly used at least one such drug.
The findings come from the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Division of Adolescent and School Health. For the first time in 2009, the CDC included questions about prescription drug use in the survey, which is conducted every two years.
The survey found that while only 15.1 percent of ninth graders had used prescription drugs illicitly, 25.8 percent of 12th graders had done so. Across all grades, usage was 11.8 percent among black students, 17.2 percent among Hispanic students and 23 percent among white students. Rates of illicit use were the same among girls and boys.
Even with the rise in prescription drug use, consumption of alcohol and marijuana remain more common. More than 70 percent of students reported having tried alcohol, and 20.8 percent had consumed it in the last month. More than one in three students (36.8 percent) had smoked marijuana, and 20.8 percent had done so in the past month. Use of other drugs was significantly lower, with 8 percent having used hallucinogens, 6.7 percent having used ecstasy, 6.4 percent having used cocaine, 4.1 percent having used methamphetamine, 2.5 percent having used heroin and 2.1 percent reporting illicit use of injectable drugs.
The other categories of behavior examined in the survey are tobacco use, risky sexual behavior, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and behaviors that may lead to injury or violence. The survey found many of these behaviors to be widespread among teenagers, with nearly 20 percent having carried a weapon or smoked a cigarette in the past month, 6.3 percent having attempted suicide and 13.8 percent having considered it and 9.7 percent having driven after drinking. Less than 20 percent of high schoolers reported meeting recommended activity guidelines and less than 13 percent were eating enough fruits and vegetables. Among sexually active students, 38.9 percent had not used a condom the most recent time they had sex.