During National Drug Facts Week: The Truth About Prescription Drugs

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Chart of Past-Year Teen Drug Abuse

This chart shows results of our 2012 Monitoring the Future survey, which looks at drug use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. Teens fill out the questionnaires themselves, privately, in their classrooms.

Did you know that prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are the most commonly abused substances by high school seniors (after marijuana and alcohol)? Some medications have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties and, because of that, are sometimes abused—taken for reasons or in ways not intended by a doctor, or taken by someone with no prescription.

In all my years as a medical doctor and scientist who studies drug abuse, I have never met anyone who wanted to get addicted. Sometimes, addiction comes from a lack of knowledge. For example, people often think that prescription and OTC drugs are safer than illicit drugs, but that’s only true when they are taken exactly as prescribed and for the purpose intended. When abused, prescription and OTC drugs can be addictive and lead to other bad health effects, including overdose—especially when taken along with other drugs or alcohol.

You can help protect yourself from such risks by knowing the facts about drugs. Check out our NIDA for Teens site to learn more and see what’s happening now during National Drug Facts Week.

We have a cool infographic on Monitoring the Future stats—Check it out.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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