NJ Parents Recognize Abuse Of Prescription Drugs By Middle School Students

ATLANTIC CITY – New statewide survey results released today by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey found New Jersey parents estimate that approximately three in ten middle school students are abusing prescription or over-the-counter drugs (26%).

The PDFNJ annual Tracking Study of Parent Attitude and Behavior in Alcohol and Drug Abuse, found that about eight in ten parents feel that kids get prescription and over-the-counter drugs out of medicine cabinets, either from their own home medicine cabinet (68%) or from a friend’s medicine cabinet (11%).

Parents are taking steps to limit their child’s exposure to unused, unwanted, and expired medicine.

  • Four in ten (39%) parents have taken an inventory of their prescription and OTC medicine in the past two months, with the majority (60%) not having done so.
  • Just about one in five (17%) of parents say they have disposed of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine at a local disposal site
  • Two in five parents (44%) have disposed of their unused, unwanted and expired medicine in their household trash.
  • One in four (23%) have flushed unwanted/expired medicine down a sink or drain.
  • Just about one in ten (9%) lock their medicine cabinet.

These findings are consistent with the message of the PDFNJ’s American Medicine Chest Challenge, a statewide public health media campaign designed to raise awareness of prescription drug abuse and the steps necessary to prevent it within their home.

The study finds that the number of New Jersey parents who report having expired medicines in their home has dropped from 42% to 35%, suggesting perhaps that the campaign to safely disposed of unused, unwanted or expired medicine in home has had some effect.

“While PDFNJ is encouraged by the number of parents who are taking steps to help protect their families, we are still very concerned that the majority of New Jersey families have yet to initiate the steps to help safeguard their homes,” said Angelo M. Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

Most New Jersey parents (82%) never allow their 12-15 year old children drink alcohol in their homes.

  • When it comes to getting alcohol, a majority of parents believe kids are getting alcohol at home (54% up nine points from 45% in 2011).
  • Four in 10 (40%) parents say they have had instances of alcohol or drug abuse in their own family in the past year. After a drop in 2011, this returns to the 41% who said the same in 2010.
  • Over eight in ten parents who have had an instance of alcohol or drug abuse in their family continue to discuss these incidents with their children (84%).

Alcohol, including beer, wine, and hard liquor, is the drug used most often by adolescents, according to the 2010 New Jersey Middle School Risk & Protective Factor Survey by the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Office of Addiction Services (DMHAS). The DHMAS study found, among New Jersey middle school students, 27.0% of 7th and 8th graders reported having used alcohol at some time in their lives. The lifetime rate for New Jersey 8th graders was higher than for 7th graders (34.2% and 19.7%, respectively). The DHMAS study also noted Prescription drug use without a prescription was the third most frequently used substance among NJ middle school students, following tobacco.

GFK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications was commissioned by The Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey to conduct a telephone survey among a sample of 500 parents with children ages 12-15 in New Jersey. The sample was randomly drawn from listed sample purchased from American Student Lists. Interviews for this wave were conducted from January 19 – February 5, 2012.Data were weighted to New Jersey census data for key demographics of households with children ages 12-15. Margin of error at the 95% confidence level is +/- 5 percentage points for the total sample.


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