A new report released by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission (ACJC) shows that teenagers are still using prescription pain relievers at an alarming rate. While slight declines were seen across the board, the report reveals that 8th grade pain reliever lifetime abuse is nearly triple the national average (11.5 percent versus 4.4 percent) with one in ten 8th grade students reporting they have taken a prescription pain reliever such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet or Codeine without a doctor telling them to do so. In 10th grade that figure jumps to one in five reporting they have used a pain reliever, which is nearly double the national average (18.9 percent versus 9.9 percent). For 12th graders, approximately one out of every four seniors says they have used a pain reliever, which again is above the national average (23.1 percent versus 13.2 percent).
“This is an extremely dangerous place for our 8th graders and should be an eye opener for parents,” said Leslie Bloom, CEO of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Arizona Affiliate. “Prescription drugs, when misused, can be fatal. Tragically, we are losing Arizona teens to prescription drug abuse.”
Recent research suggests that teens use prescription drugs because they perceive them to be less dangerous than illegal drugs. Prescription drugs are also easy to get. This year, ACJC added a question to the survey asking teens where they get prescription drugs. The top three responses were from friends, from home (medicine cabinet) or at parties.
Of additional note in the report are the increases in marijuana and Ecstasy use in all grade levels. Marijuana use has increased by 10 percent, with 45 percent of 12th graders reporting marijuana use, and one out of six 8th graders reporting use of marijuana. Ecstasy use has returned to record levels seen in 2002, with 7 percent of teens reporting they have used Ecstasy. From 2008 to 2010, Ecstasy use jumped 66 percent. Ecstasy is part hallucinogen, part stimulant, and is in the form of a pill that is often imprinted with a popular logo. The high can last anywhere from four to six hours. The drug produces a euphoric feeling in the user and increases energy. However, the user will often experience increased muscle tension, tremors, blurred vision, and hyperthermia. The increased body temperature can result in organ failure and death.
The statewide survey showed that methamphetamine use continues to decline and is now below the national average with just 1.5 percent of teens in Arizona reporting trying methamphetamine versus 2.3 percent nationwide.
To better equip parents to help their children avoid drinking and drug use, The Arizona Affiliate has a new program, AZ Parents Connect ℠ .
“We want parents to know that we are here for them,” said Shelly Mowrey, director of programs for the Arizona Affiliate. “We have resources and tools to help them make that connection with their child to prevent underage drinking and drug use in their families. We’re offering free parent workshops and in-person trainings for schools, businesses and community members.”
If you would like more information, log onto www.DrugFreeAz.org or contact Shelly Mowrey at (602) 264-5700.
About the Partnership for a Drug-Free America , Arizona Affiliate
The Arizona Affiliate was established in 2003 to carry out The Partnership’s mission to reduce illicit drug use in Arizona while meeting the unique needs of communities. Through its programs, the Arizona Affiliate inspires and empowers Arizonans to join in a united effort to prevent illicit drug use among teens through community-based education. The Arizona Affiliate is a non profit 501-c-3 organization.
For more information, visit the Affiliate website at www.DrugFreeAZ.org.