Teenage smoking and drinking continue to drop, but teenage abuse of prescription drugs has become "an entrenched behavior" that many parents fail to recognize, according to a survey being released today.
For a third straight year, the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, showed that about 1 in 5 -- about 4.5 million -- teenagers have tried painkillers such as Vicodin or OxyContin to get high.
Forty percent of teenagers surveyed said prescription medicines were "much safer" than illegal drugs, while 31 percent said there was "nothing wrong" with using prescription drugs "once in a while." The study also found that 29 percent believe prescription pain relievers are not addictive.
In 2003, the study found 20 percent of teenagers had tried the prescription drugs Vicodin, OxyContin and Tylox. Over the next two years, the numbers remained fairly steady.
Sixty-two percent of teenagers said prescription pain relievers are easy to find at home.
The 2005 study surveyed more than 7,300 teenagers in grades seven through 12.
Source: Washington Post (DC)