Survey: Kids try prescription meds earlier than other drugs or alcohol

CINCINNATI - A survey of drug use among school age children in Greater Cincinnati reveals that adolescents begin to use prescription and over-the-counter drugs not prescribed for them earlier than alcohol, tobacco or marijuana.

The Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati released the results Monday on youth prescription drug abuse.

Among its findings, the survey reveals that 6.5 percent of students reported having used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons within the past 30 days.

Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and the non-medical use of prescription drugs are the most frequently used drugs by 7th-12th graders in the Greater Cincinnati area.

The average age students report first using prescription drugs not prescribed for them is 12.9 years, and 12.4 years for over-the-counter drugs.

The coalition shared the data during a summit focused on the abuse of prescription opioid drugs by Tri-State youth. The event, held at the METS Center in Erlanger, Ky., was designed to build partnerships to improve access to treatments to prevent overdose, deaths and relapse to opioid use.

"We are concerned that our local youth are starting to use these medicines at such a young age," said Mary F. Haag, the coalition's president and CEO.

More than 57,000 students in grades 7-12 from 119 schools took the survey in fall 2011.

Founded in 1996, the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati is a nonprofit organization that attempts to discourage substance abuse among youth.

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