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SAMHSA News - January/February 2008, Volume 16, Number 1

Combating Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

Major Federal Initiative Launched

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recently launched its first major Federal effort to educate parents about teen prescription drug abuse.

Millions of television viewers watched the advertising kickoff of this national public awareness campaign during the Super Bowl on January 24.

The effort includes broadcast, print, and online advertising, community outreach, and new print and online resources.

Though overall teen drug use is down nationwide, more teens abuse prescription drugs than any other illicit drug, except marijuana—more than cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined.

Every day, 2,500 kids age 12 to 17 abuse a prescription painkiller for the first time, and more people are getting addicted to prescription drugs. Drug treatment admissions for prescription painkillers increased more than 300 percent from 1995 to 2005.

Teens are abusing prescription drugs because many believe the myth that these drugs provide a “safe” high. Especially troubling is that the majority of teens who abuse prescription drugs say they are easy to get and are often free.

For the full ONDCP press release, visit Prescription for Danger: A Report on the Troubling Trend of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse among the Nation’s Teens is available online at

For related SAMHSA efforts, see SAMHSA News online, November/December 2007, and for more information about youth and substance abuse, visit SAMHSA’s Web site at

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