(NaturalNews) A new national survey has been released, highlighting startling new trends in teen prescription drug abuse. The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation are confirming that one in four teens now abuse or misuse a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime. These results suggest a 33 percent increase since 2008. Further results suggest that one in eight teens have misused stimulants Ritalin or Adderall at least once in their lifetime. The study finds that the apathetic attitudes of parents are fueling the uprise in teen prescription drug abuse. Sadly enough, the survey reveals that nearly one-third of parents believe stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall improve a teen's academic performance.
Data suggest misuse of prescription drugs is becoming the new normal in teen circles
New data points out that 20 percent of the teens who've abused prescription drugs say they've done so before the age of 14. Also, a mistaken 33 percent of teens believe that using prescription drugs not prescribed to them is okay to treat injury, illness or physical pain.
Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org says, "Medicine abuse is one of the most significant and preventable adolescent health problems facing our families today. What's worse is that kids who begin using at an early age are more likely to struggle with substance use disorders when compared to those who might start using after the teenage years. As parents and caring adults, we need to take definitive action to address the risks that intentional medicine abuse poses to the lives and the long-term health of our teens."
Many now mistakenly believe prescription drugs are safer than illegal ones
The data also reveals that 27 percent of teens believe that abusing prescription drugs is safer than using street drugs. Twenty-three percent of teens say their parents don't care as much if they are caught using prescription drugs without a doctor's prescription, compared to being caught with illegal drugs.
Has the idea of illegal drugs caused parents and children to be lax toward abuse and misuse of legally prescribed drugs?
Steve Pasierb breaks it down further, "These data make it very clear: the problem is real, the threat immediate and the situation is not poised to get better...The key here is that kids and often their parents are buying into the myth and misunderstanding that prescription drug abuse is a safer way to get high, a safer alternative to street drugs, and that they can control it...Now, if cocaine or heroin use was going up the way prescription drug use is, parents would certainly be freaking out."
Pasierb added, "And they should be now, because prescription drug abuse is no better."
Abuse of stimulants Ritalin and Adderall is a growing trend
New data shows that 2.7 million teens now report misusing or abusing Ritalin or Adderall at least once in their lifetime. Twenty-six percent of teens now believe that prescription drugs like these can be used as study aids.
Alain Joffe, MD, MPH says, "We don't really know what long-term effects these medications will have on the still-developing brains of adolescents... We do know they can have significant side effects, which is why they are limited to use with a prescription."
Parents play an important role
The new findings suggest that teens are more likely to abuse prescription medicines when they believe their parents don't care if they get caught using them, compared to illegal drugs. In fact, one in six parents believes that using prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs. Even more disheartening, almost one-third of parents say they believe ADHD medication like Ritalin or Adderall can improve a child's academic or testing performance.
Parents are also making these drugs readily available to their teens, not even realizing it. As a matter of fact, more than half of teens indicate that it's easy to get prescription drugs right from their parent's medicine cabinet and 42 percent of teens actually do just that. Furthermore, about half of the parents surveyed say anyone can easily access their medicine cabinet.
Pasierb sums it up, "This new data is not about blaming parents. Rather, it's an urgent call to action for them to use their immense power to help curb this dangerous behavior. It's about missed opportunities to protect their kids by having direct conversations with them about the health risks of misusing and abusing medicines - and to then moving to safeguard the medicines in their own home. Parental apathy on this issue is contributing to the problem. Yet the same data show year in and year out that kids who learn a lot about the risks of drug use at home are up to half as likely to use as kids who don't get that life-changing gift from their parents."