DefinitionPercentage of adolescents (students in grades 9-12) who responded one or more times on the [http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/index.htm Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)] to the question: "During the past 30 days, how many times did you take a prescription drug (such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, Adderall, Ritalin, or Xanax) without a doctor's prescription?"
NumeratorWeighted number of adolescents (students in grades 9-12) who responded one or more times on the YRBS to the question: "During the past 30 days, how many times did you take a prescription drug (such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, Adderall, Ritalin, or Xanax) without a doctor's prescription?"
DenominatorWeighted number of adolescents (students in grades 9-12) with complete and valid responses to the question on the YRBS.
Data Interpretation IssuesAlaska has conducted a statewide Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 1995 and biennially from 2003. Weighted data were not obtained in 2005 and therefore no statewide estimates are available for that year. A YRBS survey conducted in 1999 did not include the Anchorage School District and therefore was not considered a valid statewide estimate. No YRBS survey was conducted in Alaska in 1997 and 2001.
Traditional high schools are sometimes called comprehensive high schools. They are public high schools that are distinct from alternative high schools, which serve students at risk of not graduating, charter schools, correspondence schools, and students enrolled in high school in correctional facilities.
Responses are weighted to reflect youth attending public traditional high schools in Alaska.
The question on current prescription drug abuse has been asked since 2011.
Why Is This Important?Prescription drugs are the third most commonly abused category of drugs, behind alcohol and marijuana. Some prescription drugs can become addictive, especially when used in a manner inconsistent with their labeling by someone other than the patient for whom they were prescribed, or when taken in a manner or dosage other than prescribed.^1^ Of people 12 years of age and older who initiated substance abuse in 2013, about 1 in 5 started by using prescription drugs nonmedically.^2^ A significant concern is the link that has been made between heroin use and prior nonmedical use of opioid prescription drugs, especially by young users.^3^[[br]]
1. Prescription Drugs. National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence website. [https://ncadd.org/learn-about-drugs/prescription-drugs]. Accessed 7/16/15.
2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. NSDUH Series H-48, HHS publication no. (SMA) 14-4863. Rockville, MD. SAMHSA, 2014. [http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHresultsPDFWHTML2013/Web/NSDUHresults2013.pdf]. Accessed 7/16/15.
3. Cerd M, Santaella J, Marshall BD, Kim JH, Martins SS. Nonmedical Prescription Opioid Use in Childhood and Early Adolescence Predicts Transitions to Heroin Use in Young Adulthood: A National Study. J Pediatr. 2015 Jun 5. pii: S0022-3476(15)00459-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.04.071. [Epub ahead of print]
How Are We Doing?The rate of current prescription drug abuse among adolescents was 6.4% for all Alaska adolescents and 4.1% for Alaska Native adolescents in 2015, essentially unchanged from 2011. The rate of ever abusing prescription drugs has declined from 20.9% in 2009 to 14.6% in 2015 for all Alaska adolescents.
The rates of lifetime and current use of unprescribed drugs among adolescents in Alaska are less than the comparable rates for cigarette, marijuana, and alcohol use and follow the pattern for the U.S.
Lower rates of current prescription drug abuse are correlated with higher academic achievement in high schools. Among adolescents receiving mostly As and Bs, 4.8% reported current prescription drug abuse compared to 9.7% among students receiving lower grades in 2015.
Prevalence rates from the YRBS are initially presented for current prescription drug abuse by all Alaska adolescents, Alaska Native adolescents, and the mean of the national YRBS. These data are followed by the rates for lifetime prescription drug abuse for the same groups. As a basis for comparison, lifetime and current use of a variety of substances are presented. Subsequent analyses display current prescription drug abuse by demographic subpopulations (i.e., sex, age, use before age 13, race/ethnicity, ethnicity, grade level, and academic achievement). Current prescription abuse prevalence by regions of Alaska are presented for the most recent time period: the 6 Alaska Economic Regions and the 10 assessment regions based upon aggregations of 20,000 population.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?Alaska adolescents have lower, but not significantly different, rates of ever abusing prescription drugs than the national average in 2015. In 2015, lifetime prescription drug abuse among adolescents was 16.8% for the U.S. compared to 14.6% for all Alaska adolescents and 13.2% for Alaska Native adolescents.
What Is Being Done?The Alaska Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) is Alaska's solution for monitoring Schedule II-V controlled substances dispensed in Alaska. Senate Bill 196 (Alaska Statute 08.80.030(b)(11)) was signed into law on September 7, 2008, requiring the Alaska Board of Pharmacy to establish and maintain a controlled substances prescription database as provided in Alaska Statute (AS) 17.30.200 for the reporting of dispensed prescriptions for all schedule IA-VA controlled substances under state law and Schedule II-V controlled substances under federal law. This program was created to improve patient care and foster the goal of reducing misuse, abuse, and diversion of controlled substances; and to encourage cooperation and coordination among state, local, and federal agencies and other states to reduce the misuse, abuse, and diversion of controlled substances.
Additionally, Alaska has hosted several Prescription Take-Back Days to encourage the safe disposal of expired and/or unused prescription drugs. Several communities across the state have established local permanent safe disposal sites.
Evidence-based PracticesIncrease local prescription drug take-back programs.
Collaborate with healthcare professionals to ensure safe and appropriate prescribing and dispensing practices.
Create strong pain management laws.
Establish dosing and best-practice guidelines and rules related to opioid use for acute, subacute, and chronic noncancer pain.
Increase PDMP utilization and leverage health information technology to inform real-time decision-making.
Initiate overdose education programs to mitigate risk to those currently using opioids.
Increase access to medication-assisted treatment.