One in Five Wisconsin Teens Have Abused Prescription Drugs

One in Five Wisconsin Teens Have Abused Prescription Drugs

A new study shows that one in five Wisconsin teenagers have abused prescription pain killers. This is the first time the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has asked about teenage prescription drug abuse in its annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The DPI’s Safe and Drug-Free Program’s Steve Fernan is surprised so many students say they have experimented with prescription drugs. "The fact that at least 20% said that they had at least once was surprising. So again as we look at this further, we can begin to determine if there is a growing or declining trend,” he said. The study found that 11% of high school students took prescription drugs to get high.

Department of Justice Special Agent Brian Dunlap says prescription drug abuse is leading to drug overdose deaths among teens and surpassing illegal drug overdoses in Wisconsin.

"So if you look at coke, crack, methamphetamine, add all those together, just the OxyContins account for more deaths on an annual basis than all those other drugs combined,” he says.

Dunlap says statistics from the four-county area of Outagamie, Winnebago, Fond du Lac, and Calumet show more deaths from prescription pain killers among teens than from street drugs, and he believes this trend is reflected statewide.

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