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Rural Teens More Likely to Abuse Prescription Drugs

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Does the local of the teen determine their likelihood to use and abuse prescription drugs for non-medical purposes? According to a Kentucky News report, the two are definitely related.

Statistics from the University of Kentucky show that the first drugs abused by a teen will come from the family’s medicine cabinet. The study also found that rural teens are 26 percent more likely to abuse prescription drugs than their peers in urban environments, yet there was no difference in rates of use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and hallucinogens between teens in urban and rural environments.

A new program, Operation UNITE, is relying on these statistics to try and change this path for teens. The program is trying to change the fact that 13 percent of rural youths have used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, compared with 10 percent of urban youths.

Director of Operation UNITE, Karen Kelly shared that her team is excited about these numbers. This non-profit attacks drug addiction in Eastern Kentucky and the findings from this study demonstrate that small communities are vulnerable. Kelly noted that too often, people in small communities believe they shouldn’t be concerned. These statistics demonstrate that action should be taken.

To develop these statistics, researchers analyzed data in the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that pulled information from 17,872 participants aged 12-17. This data supports the claims by Operation UNITE that teens are using the things they can find in their parents’ medicine cabinet.

There is a belief that the pills are safe because they are prescribed. Teens don’t understand the true risk they are taking with their own lives. Operation UNITE hopes to educate them so as to reverse this trend.

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