Study: Teen Drug Abuse Down

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An annual study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed Thursday some positive news about adolescent use of illegal drugs.

"Today we announce a remarkable achievement: Youth drug use in 2006 is 23.2 percent lower than it was in 2001," said John Walters of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "We almost hit the president's goal exactly. Further, the most commonly used illegal drug, marijuana, fell a full 25 percent."

The news however was bitter sweet. Though the use of illegal drugs and alcohol by teens has declined, the study shows an upward trend of teens abusing prescription and over the counter drugs.

"Non-medical use of prescription drugs has remained unacceptably high after growing dramatically in the first part of this last 10-year period, and particularly the last five-year period," said Walters. "Our central concern is the misuse of narcotic analgesics or painkillers, which have high addictive potential and present health risks when abused."

Cindy Soltis of the Brazos Valley Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse says one reason young adults are turning to these types of drugs is because of their accessibility to the drugs.

"These are readily available and they're found in the medicine cabinet, Soltis said. "They're easy to buy at the store."

Soltis said there are several key warning signs of over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse that parents need to be aware of.

"One thing to look at might be their sleep patterns, their behavior, their attitude, a change in friends, or their grades start to go down," said Soltis.

Lastly, she urged parents to keep over-the-counter and or prescription drugs locked up, and not to let kids have open access to the medicine cabinet.

This was the study's first time to include the abuse of over-the-counter medicines into their research.