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Over the last 2 decades, the pharmaceutical industry has been slowly and methodically taking over the illegal drug trade, creating products that substitute for illegal drugs. (See our book: How Big Pharma Is Taking Over the Illegal Drug Trade) Prescription drugs are now at or near the top of most categories of substance abuse, and children are especially likely to abuse these products, since they are readily available. Here are some facts and statistics on prescription drug abuse by children & teens:

  1. In 2001, 12% of teens 12 to 17 admitted to using a prescription drug non-medically. (Hanson et al., 2004)

  1. Teen abuse of Adderall has ebbed and flowed in recent years, with 5.4% of 12th graders using the drug for non-medical reasons in 2009, then rising to 7.4% in 2013, before falling to 6.2% in 2016. (Johnston et al., 2017)

  1. In 2002, 4% of high school seniors used OxyContin. (Johnston et al., 2003)

  2. In 2016, 0.9% of 8th graders, 2.1% of 10th graders and 3.4% of 12th graders abused OxyContin. For Vicodin, the rates were 0.8%, 1.7%, and 2.9%, respectively. (Johnston et al., 2017)

  3. 3)Abuse of prescription tranquilizers (such as Valium, Klonopin, Ativan or Xanax) stood at 1.7% of 8th graders, 4.1% of 10th graders and 4.9% of 12th graders in 2016. (Johnston et al., 2017)

  4. Non-prescription use of sedatives among teens was 3% in 2016. (ibid)

  5. One in four teens say they’ve abused ADHD medication at some point during middle school and high school, according to a 2023 study in JAMA Network Open. Using data form 2005-2010.


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