5 Drugs Kids Steal Most Often From Parents

Early Show - medicine cabinet addicts - May 7,2008 CBS

You may unwittingly be a big source of prescription drugs your teen is using. And more often than not, medicine cabinets are their go-to spot of choice.

The Partnership For a Drug-Free America's latest survey has 61 percent of teens reporting prescription drugs are easier to get than illegal drugs, up significantly from 56 percent in 2005. And 41 percent of teens mistakenly believe abuse of medicines is less dangerous than abuse of illegal street drugs.

"One out of every two Americans is on prescription medication. So these drugs are readily available," CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez on The Early Show Thursday. "People think they're safe because they're prescribed by a doctor, and more and more teens are turning to the medicine closet to get their drugs of use and abuse."

Ashton went through the five classes of prescription drugs kids get most often in their own homes:

  • Narcotic pain relievers: Excess use can cause respiratory depression, even coma and death. Mild use can cause constipation, depression, and problems concentrating. These are the ones most commonly abused by teens.

  • Stimulants: Such as Ritalin, can cause nervousness, insomnia, and toxic psychosis. They can be abused by adults and teens trying for what they perceive as better concentration

  • Sedatives/tranquilizers: Such as Valium, can cause impaired coordination, which can be a real danger if someone is driving. They can also cause drowsiness and depression.

  • Sleep Aids: Such as Ambien, have a high potential for abuse (even in adults), and there are reports that teens use it recreationally because they get a "high" by trying to fight the sleepy feeling -- and can have visual hallucinations.

  • Cough meds: Contain DXM, which acts in way that is similar to morphine. They can cause respiratory depression, brain hemorrhage, nausea, and vomiting, and prompt thousands of emergency room visits each year.

    What's a parent to do to try to keep kids from getting to these drugs in the house?

    Ashton suggests throwing them out when they're no longer needed, and keeping any you need hidden, and perhaps even under lock and key, as you might a liquor cabinet.

    She stressed it's not just prescription meds, but over-the-counter as well parents need to focus on.

    She also urged parents to, "Talk to your children. Let them know that, just because they're prescribed by a doctor, (doesn't mean they couldn't be) deadly. We all know, as parents, you want to try to get ahead of this ball. So, before it happens, let them know.
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