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Teen Painkiller Abuse Drastically Drops In Ohio

By McCarton Ackerman 03/10/14

A survey found that illicit painkiller use among teens has fallen considerably, while heroin, cocaine, and steroid use has also declined.

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The battle against painkiller abuse in Ohio is having a positive effect on youth throughout the state. Approximately 21.3 percent of high school students in Ohio had reported using painkillers without a prescription at least once in their life. But new statistics from the 2013 Ohio Risk Youth Behavior Survey now report that fewer than 12.8 percent of current high school students have used painkillers without a doctor’s note.

The survey was conducted by Ohio’s health department and their findings were calculated based on responses from 1,455 students. “Our leaders and our legislators have been very proactive about [fighting painkiller abuse],” said Marcie Seidel, executive director of the Columbus-based Drug-Free Action Alliance. “From a science point of view, when you do those sort of things, you should see that kind of change. So that’s why I say I’m hopeful about it.”

However, the battle against painkiller abuse is far from over. The surge in drug use has doubled overdose rates in the Cincinnati area, while many painkiller addicts have turned to heroin when their prescriptions run out. State officials and activists have responded to the crisis by creating tighter regulations on prescriptions, installing community prescription drop boxes to dispose of unused medications, and cracking down on “pill mills,” which illegally prescribed thousands of painkillers.

Ohio’s high school population has also seen a decline in the last two years with heroin, cocaine, and steroid use as well as drinking alcohol. But since the survey only uses sets of data from 2011 and 2013, a continued decline in drug use would need to be demonstrated in 2015 and 2017 in order to prove that the state’s anti-drug abuse initiatives are effective.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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