Study: Lax attitude on teens and Rx drug abuse

Friday - 4/26/2013, 1:10am EDT

JENNIFER C. KERR
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More parents need to talk with their teens about the dangers of abusing Ritalin, Adderall and other prescription drugs, suggests a new study that finds discouraging trends on kids and drug use.

When teens were asked about the last substance abuse conversation they had with their parents, just 14 percent said they talked about abusing a prescription drug, said the report being released Tuesday by The Partnership at Drugfree.org.

"For parents, it really comes down to not using the power they have because they don't think this is an immediate problem, meaning their own home, own neighborhood kind of thing," says Steve Pasierb, president of the partnership. "They believe that this is probably a safer way, not as bad as illegal street drugs."

By comparison, most teens -- 81 percent -- said they have talked about the risks of marijuana use with their parents. Almost the same number said they have discussed alcohol with their parents. Almost one-third said they have talked about crack and cocaine.

Some parents didn't see a significant risk in teens misusing prescription drugs.

One in six parents said using prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs, according to the survey. Almost one-third of the parents said attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications such as Ritalin or Adderall can improve a child's academic or testing performance even if the teen does not have ADHD.

For Tracey and Jeff Gerl, of Cypress, Texas, their son's drug abuse problem was a shock.

"We just didn't know," said Jeff. He and his wife had the "drugs are bad" talk with their son, Nick, and thought he got the message. They called the parents of friends when he said he was spending the night to make sure an adult would be home. They tried to get to know his friends. Despite their efforts, Nick started smoking pot at the age of 12.

In an AP interview, Nick said he and his friends often raided their parents' medicine cabinets for anything they could get their hands on -- codeine, Xanax, Ritalin. Some kids, Nick said, would have "skittles parties," where the teens threw all the pills they poached from home into a big bowl, mixed them up and then took a few without knowing exactly what they were ingesting.

By 14, Nick's parents knew something was wrong. The day before he turned 15, they sent Nick to The Center for Success and Independence in Houston for 7
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