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The Peak Risk For Misusing Prescription Drugs Occurs in Mid-Adolescence

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Drug awareness and prevention programs in schools may help kids avoid a dangerous lifestyle, but a recent study reveals that these intervention programs need to be scheduled before kids reach high school. A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine stated that the peak risk of prescription drug abuse occurs in mid-adolescence. This is much sooner than physicians and treatment specialists realized.

A Nationwide Epidemic

A research team from Michigan State University (MSU) found that age 16 was the peak age for adolescents to start using pain killers to get high or for other extra-medical use. Drug prevention programs in high school will help educate students on the dangerous effects of misusing drugs, but it will be too late to warn the child who started misusing pain medication when he was 12 years old.

Much research reveals that the abuse of prescription painkillers causes more deaths in the nation than the abuse of heroin and cocaine combined. This is the latest battle that America must wage in the war on drugs, and it must be fought early. Studies show that prescription drug abuse is physically affecting every age group in America, from infants born to mothers who were abusing drugs to senior citizens who knowingly or unknowingly become dependent on their medications.

Earlier Intervention Needed

The researchers intended to use the study to find just how early of an age children were when they started misusing prescription pain medications. They analyzed data from the 2004 to 2008 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. Almost 120,000 individuals, from ages 12 to 21 were studied.

Researchers believed that most individuals would respond that they first misused drugs when they were in high school or college. They were surprised that many kids started in middle school.

James C. Anthony, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, stresses that his school’s findings should urge those who conduct prevention programs to target their programs more heavily to children and younger adolescents.

Knowing the ABC’s of Drugs

Drug abuse in 2012 wears a very different face than it did a few decades ago. A rise in prescription painkiller misuse shows that drugs once seen as helpful can be very harmful if improperly used. Little did the nation think that drug addicts would be feeding their addiction from their home medicine cabinets.

MSU’s study revealed that children need to be educated about the risks of prescription painkiller misuse at early ages. Every year, one in 60 youth between the ages of 12 and 21 years old begin misusing prescription pain killers. With early intervention programs, youth can be warned about the hazards of prescription drug misuse. With their knowledge, they can not only be able to help themselves, but their parents or grandparents who may rely on a younger generation to educate them on the safe use of their increasing prescription medications.

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