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Survey Reveals Rx Drug Abuse by Teens

Study Shows Many High School Students Use Ritalin, Xanax, or OxyContin Without a Prescription

Risky Teen Behavior

The survey found that many high school students engage in behaviors that increase their likelihood for the leading causes of death among young people between 10 and 24. It found that in the 30 days prior to being asked:

  • 9.7% of high school students said they rarely or never wore a seat belt when riding in a car driven by someone else.
  • 9.7% had driven a car or other vehicle one or more times when they had been drinking alcohol. The prevalence for drinking while driving was higher among males (11.6%) than females (7.6%) and higher among white males (12.7%) than black males (8.7%) and Hispanic males (11%); overall, 15.4% of 12th grade students admitted to drinking while driving.
  • 28.3% admitted to riding in a car or other vehicle that had been driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol.
  • 17% said they had carried a weapon.
  • 41.8% had drunk alcohol and 20.8% had smoked marijuana.

The survey also showed that many high school students engage in behaviors that are associated with the leading causes of death among adults 25 and over. In 2009:

  • 19.5% of high school students had smoked cigarettes during the 30 days before the survey.
  • 77.7% had not eaten fruits and vegetables five or more times a day in the seven-day period before the survey.
  • On all seven days before being surveyed, 29.2% had drunk sodas at least once daily; 81.6% had not been physically active for at least an hour.
  • One-third of the students attended physical education classes daily, but 12% were still obese.

The study said that since 1991, the prevalence of many health-risk behaviors among high school students had decreased, but that many continue to engage in activities or behaviors that place them at risk for the leading causes of death and sickness.

The researchers conclude that their findings indicate a need for monitoring of behaviors of high school students.

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