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Survey: higher rate of prescription drug abuse among youth in some rural counties

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jul 19, 2017 1:16 PM
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(Harrisburg) -- The prescription drug crisis may be particularly acute in some rural counties in the midstate; new data shows Perry and Franklin counties are outliers.

More than three percent of children who responded to a 2015 state survey in those two counties said they abused prescription drugs within the past 30 days.

In every other part of the region, the number hovered around two percent or lower.

Drexel University Public Health Professor Philip Massey led the research.

He says the work from the state health workgroup found more kids said they had an easier time getting prescription drugs in 2015 versus 2013

"Yes, there is an upward tick in ease of access. I would like to see more data to see if this is an actual trend or if it's an outlier, so PAYS is collected every two years, so 2017 data will be available in 2018," says Massey.

He says people should take the information to lawmakers.

"This is a) a problem or this is a great opportunity to continue working with our youth to build upon these positive attitudes in relation to prescription opioid prevention," he adds.

Massey says he views the latest data as context, and not providing definitive answers. The data is all self-reported by students, and some school districts don't participate in the survey.

He says more rigorous studies could help public health officials better understand the opioid crisis, and come up with more effective solutions.

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