Study Finds Teens Abusing Prescription Painkillers More Than Illegal Drugs

If you're worried about your teen doing drugs, you may want to check your own medicine cabinet.

New research shows millions of teenagers are abusing prescription drugs, and the trend doesn't stop in south-central Wisconsin.

It was a harsh reality for some Middleton High School students when last March then 17-year-old Julie Zdeblick died from an Oxycontin overdose.

The man who sold her the drugs, Derek Hansen, is spending 5 years behind bars for her death.

"I certainly think her death had an effect on some kids but again I think sometimes that's short lived," says Middleton's Alcohol and Drug Coordinator, Cheryl Hoff, "Kids tend to forget or they don't think it's ever going to happen to themselves and they move on."

A new study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America finds about 1 in 5 teens has abused a prescription painkiller.

That's more than have experimented with Ecstasy, cocaine or LSD.

The most popular drug is Vicodin, with 18% or 4.3 million teen abuser, followed by Oxycontin and drugs that treat attention-deficit disorder, like Ritalin or Adderall, at 10%.

Surprisingly fewer than half (48%) the teens said they saw great risk in experimenting with prescription drugs.

"Kids think they're invincible that they won't be affected by that and it's a pretty euphoric high when the kids are taking prescription pills," says Hoff.

That has local law enforcement stepping up their efforts to identify crimes that stem from prescription controlled drug abuse. Thursday 150 officers from across the state took part in a training course at the Shorewood Hills Community Center.

"It seems like people are willing to take more chances in getting caught and committing more violent crimes to get these substances," says Ritch Wagner of Purdue Pharma, "And we want to make law enforcement aware of that."

While Hoff says alcohol and marijuana are still the drugs of choice, prescription pills are on the rise and that's why she says parents need to be prudent.

"If they have prescription pills for themselves for any reason if they're done with them, throw them away. I would keep those under pretty careful watch."

There are many dangers associated with taking prescription drugs that aren't prescribed to you. You don't know the dosage or how mixing the pills with other medications or alcohol will affect your body.

Sometimes that effect can be an addiction or even death.

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