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:
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.