Young people can also be tempted to take the drugs.
But this is dangerous and has led to a rise in overdoses.
This is the first of a two-part series on the rise of overdoses.
Part one: The rise of overdose deaths Young people are more likely to overdose when they are younger than when they were young, a new study finds.
The study looked at the numbers of drug-related deaths and hospitalisations for young people aged 12 to 17 in the UK in 2011.
It found that about two thirds of deaths in the period between 2006 and 2011 were related to illicit drug use, and about one in four were related “to prescription drugs”.
The proportion of young people who had taken at least one drug had fallen from 45% in 2006 to 35% in 2011, according to the study.
The researchers say it may be partly because the UK’s legal drug policy has moved away from a prohibitionist approach to cannabis, and the availability of prescription drugs in particular has increased.
The number of people in England and Wales who have died from overdoses of illicit drugs has fallen from about 2,200 in 2009 to about 700 in 2011 – a fall of more than 80%.
There have also been an increasing number of deaths from other illicit drugs, including amphetamines, cocaine and heroin.
However, the research found that there were a number of factors that were linked to these trends, including increased availability of illegal drugs.
What happens when you overdose?
The new study also found that the proportion of people aged 18 to 24 who had overdosed had risen from 28% in 2007 to 31% in 2010, but remained steady in 2011 at just over 30%.
“We’re seeing the increase in drug use as a younger age group, and as a consequence the rates of overdose have increased,” Professor John Stoeckl, who led the study from Oxford University, told BBC News.
“We can’t say it’s all to do with legalisation, but that’s the main factor.”
There are other reasons why people are becoming more aware of the dangers of taking prescription drugs.
For one, a recent survey found that one in five young people said they had taken a prescription drug at some point during their lives.
The NHS is now taking steps to try to reduce prescription drug misuse among young people, including a scheme called the Youth Benefit Scheme, which is aimed at boosting access to treatment.
But it is unclear whether the scheme will be enough to reduce the number of young users taking prescription drug overdoses.
Other reasons why young people are taking drugs include the need to get a high, or the thrill of drug taking.
And some people have found that they can stop taking prescription medicines without risking the possibility of becoming addicted to the drugs they are using.
One study found that nearly half of people who stopped taking prescription medication in a year found themselves taking more, but not stopping altogether.
Professor Stoekeckl said that there was no clear explanation for why some people might choose to use prescription drugs, but he said the research had highlighted the need for a more comprehensive approach to prevention.
The latest study also looked at a number other drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamine and heroin, and how the drugs affect people’s lives.
It suggested that people should be aware that these drugs are potentially dangerous and that they should not take them if they think they will get into trouble with the law.
It is important to note that the study did not look at any of the other drugs that were most commonly taken by young people.
What can be done?
Professor Stueckl says there needs to be more attention paid to young people taking drugs, as well as the effects they can have on other people.
“I think we need to start taking these drugs very seriously and try to understand how they are being used, and to be very clear that it is not OK to take them, but it is absolutely wrong to take anything at all.”
Professor Stieckl’s findings were published in the journal Addiction.
The research has been published in a special issue of the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
The BBC’s Nicky Campbell reports from Oxford.