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Prescription Medication Misuse and Abuse

Information and resources regarding prescription medication misuse and abuse.

Prescription medication abuse and misuse is a national epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


  • Ninety percent of drug addictions start in the teenage years
  • One in six teens have used a prescription drug in order to get high
  • Two-thirds of teens who abuse pain relievers say they get them without a prescription from family members and friends

What is California Doing?

In response to this national epidemic, the California Department of Education partnered with the California Department of Public Health and other state entities to convene the Prescription Opioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention Work Group External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF: 1.3MB) in the spring of 2014. The work group will engage physicians, health care professionals, patients, consumers, and the general public, including parents/guardians and schools, to deliver the following messages:

  • Prescription drugs, including opioids, have an appropriate use. However, there are risks, making it important for doctors and patients to discuss the options, benefits, and risks when considering prescription drugs for pain management.
  • Both medical and non-medical use of prescription medications contribute to complications or death.
  • Experiencing pain can be devastating and treating pain can be complicated. All options need to be considered. Taking unnecessary pills, or taking too many, can kill.

A major milestone occurred in October 2014, when the Medical Board of California revised its Guidelines for Prescribing Controlled Substances for Pain External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF; 3MB).

What Can You Do?

Parents/guardians should:

  • Ask questions of their child’s physician and pharmacist and understand the responses.
  • Safely store prescription medications so they are not used by someone they are not prescribed for, especially children.
  • Make sure medications are used in the manner in which they are prescribed.
  • Understand the benefits and the risks of prescribed medications.
  • Tell your physician about any addiction or dependency issues you or family members may have.


National Institute on Drug Abuse External link opens in new window or tab.
Resources for parents and educators, including fact sheets on various drugs and prevention materials.

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids External link opens in new window or tab.
Resources to reduce teen substance abuse and support families impacted by addiction.

Prescription Drug Overdose in the United States Fact Sheet External link opens in new window or tab.

Up and Away—Safe Medicine Storage for Families External link opens in new window or tab.
An educational program to remind families of the importance of safe medicine storage.

Questions:   School Health and Safety Office | 916-319-0914
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, June 28, 2023