Prescription Drug Abuse Higher Among Hispanic Teens, Study Finds

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Hispanic teenagers are using prescription medicine to get high more than other teens in the United States, federal drug prevention officials said Wednesday as they announced a national campaign aimed at curbing the problem.

While illegal drug use among Hispanics tends to be lower than other groups, one in five Hispanic teenagers reported trying prescription drugs to get high, according to a 2005 survey by Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

"We are concerned the Hispanic youth, especially, are leading this race and it's a race we don't want them to win," said Mary Ann Solberg, deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Many teenagers do not realize the problems that arise from misusing prescription and over-the counter-drugs, experts say. An estimated 45 percent of Hispanic teenagers believe that prescription medicines are safer than illegal drugs, the partnership survey found.

Often, their parents also are not aware of the risks posed by medications. Only one-third of parents reported discussing the risks of prescription and over-the-counter medicines in the partnership's study.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy pointed out the concern as it launched a national advertising campaign Wednesday to inform parents and help them prevent drug abuse among their children.

An open letter style ad signed by nearly a dozen Latino organizations will run in the top 14 Hispanic media markets. Materials for the campaign includes a brochure for parents and a two-disc DVD available in Spanish and English.