Forget about smoking pot — now teens don't need to go any further than their parents' medicine cabinets to get high. Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, gives the 411 on how your teen may take your prescription medication to get high — and how you can prevent it.

I've always been open with my kids about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, but prescription drug abuse wasn't something we talked about until I was badly injured and my doctor prescribed narcotics to control my pain. My then 10 and 14-year-old sons would joke about how loopy I was, and I would warn them that I'd get a little giddy and talkative when my fancy meds kicked in.

Prescription drug overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death in America, surpassing car crashes.

I had no idea about the severity of teens and prescription drugs until I started doing a little research of my own about side effects of the drug I was prescribed. During the time I was taking this medication, I read a magazine article about the rise in prescription drug overdose and it scared me — not only because I was taking hydrocodone daily but also for my kids and if they were aware of the risks.

Turns out, "Prescription drug overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death in America, surpassing car crashes," says Pasierb.

Get to know the "in" drugs in your home

variety of pillsPasierb explains that teens may abuse just about anything in the medicine cabinet — from anti-depressants to opioid pain medicines and cough medicine.

"The growth area right now is large numbers of teens turning to stimulants," he explains. "In our latest national research, the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), 13 percent of teens reported abusing stimulant medications Ritalin or Adderall at least once in their lifetime, and 16 percent of teens say they've abused prescription pain relievers at least once in their lifetime." He says these household drugs are at the top of teens' lists of ways to get high:


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Stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall

"The meds are abused in search of additional energy or because they've heard rumors these drugs can increase ability to focus when they're studying or taking tests."


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Pain medications like all the forms of oxycodone or hydrocodone and tranquilizers such as Xanax

"These are often abused to cope with academic, social or emotional stress."


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Prescription amphetamines

"Prescription amphetamines may be taken by teens looking to lose weight. Some search out steroids and performance enhancing substances seeking to bulk up for sports or look fit."

Safely store household meds

Research showed that more than four in 10 teens who have misused or abused a prescription drug have taken it right from their parents' medicine cabinet.

Pasierb explains, "Our recent PATS research showed that more than four in 10 teens who have misused or abused a prescription drug have taken it right from their parents' medicine cabinet. For this reason, it's important to limit this easy access by removing medicines with the potential for abuse from the bathroom cabinet and storing them in a safe place that only parents have access to and know about."

Be honest with your kids about the dangers

My prescription drug use — I weaned off the meds as soon as my doctor gave me the OK to once I started healing from my injury — was the teachable moment I didn't even know I needed. Unfortunately, many parents aren't talking to their kids about the risks. "Many parents are simply unaware of the dangers. In some cases, parents mistakenly believe abusing prescription drugs is safer than using street drugs — just as their teens also mistakenly believe. That's simply not true," says Pasierb.

If you're not sure where to start, check out the Partnership at Drugfree.org or the Medicine Abuse Project for tips from parents and teens.

Read more about teens and substance abuse

Latest teen high: OTC cough medicine
Dangerous trends that could kill your teen
Could my teen be using undetectable drugs?

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