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Prescription Drug Abuse: Peak Age Is at Sixteen

Prescription Drug Abuse

A new study by researchers at Michigan State University finds that the peak risk for prescription drug abuse happens at 16 years of age, and earlier than many experts previously believed. The study results are based on recent nationwide surveys of almost 120,000 American adolescents, and suggest that prevention programs may need to be introduced earlier – in childhood and early adolescence.

“While much of the previous thinking was that misuse of these drugs emerged in the final year of high school and during the college-age years, we found that for adolescents the peak risk of starting to misuse these painkillers generally occurs earlier, not during the postsecondary school years,” said James C. Anthony of Michigan State University’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

“We suspect many physicians, other prescribing clinicians and public health professionals, will share our surprise in this finding.”

The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Michigan State University.

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