January 2, 2007--Posted at 5:45 p.m. CST
JONESBORO, AR--It's a growing problem with teens and it's probably already in your home. According to a University of Michigan study, teen drug use has declined 23% since 2001. While that is an encouraging statistic, not all teen drug use is seeing the same drop.
Open up your medicine cabinet and you will most likely see the new trend in teen drug use...prescription drugs. In fact, over the last year, the use OxyContin increased more than 30%. It's a problem that hits home with any parent who has a prescription.
"You are seeing more teens taking Xanax, Hydrocodone and other painkillers. I am seeing an upward trend of that," said Marc Wilson from St. Bernards Behavioral Health.
While marijuana, meth and other hard drugs are still out there, it's the increasing supply of prescription drugs that is allowing more teens access.
"We are taking more prescription drugs. Parents have more prescription drugs in their cabinet. There is just easier access to them," said Wilson.
Low self esteem and the lure to fit in attracts teens to these drugs. However, most are unaware that abuse can lead to seizures, addictive behavior and in some cases even death.
"My parents are taking it or so and so are taking it so it can't be that bad for me, it can't hurt me. They don't see the long term effects and they certainly don't see this can be a dependent thing for them," said Wilson.
The growing trend away from narcotics to prescriptions now means the war on drugs is less on the streets and more in your home.
"I think the first thing we can do as parents is give a strong, clear message that any kind of drug use is wrong," said Wilson.
While educating your children to the hazards of these drugs is key, it also important for parents to be aware of the warning signs this addiction offers.
"I would look at red glazed eyes, certainly if see personality changes in them. A truancy, hanging out with different friends and even depressive symptoms," said Wilson.
Unfortunately, many of these drugs are highly addictive and correcting the problem isn't as simple as preventing your child access to the drugs.