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Health & Parenting

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Teen Drug Use Linked to 'Problem Parents'

Survey Blames Drug Abuse on Parents Who Don't Monitor Kids' Activities

School Stress and Drug Use continued...

Almost three in four teens (73%) said school stress was the No. 1 reason for using drugs, but only 7% of parents recognized this as a possible reason for drug abuse by their children.

While the survey confirmed that overall drug use continues to decline among teens, a downward trend has not been seen in the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

One-in-five teens who participated in the survey said they had abused prescription drugs and 41% considered prescription drugs safer than illegal drugs.

"Overall, this generation of teenagers is partying less and getting high less, but what they are using and some of the reasons why they are using are very different than in the past," Partnership for a Drug-Free America President Steve Pasierb tells WebMD.

Throw Old Drugs Away

Pasierb says parents often don't understand that a wide range of prescription drugs are being abused by teens.

"They've heard about OxyContin and Vicodin in the news, and they think they're OK if they don't have these drugs in the house," he says. "What they don't understand is that there are 40 or more different prescription drugs that are widely abused."

His advice to parents: Take an inventory of the prescription drugs in your home and dispose of old ones, especially sedatives, tranquilizers, pain medications, and attention deficit drugs.

"There are literally millions of prescriptions sitting around on medicine shelves across America that need to be thrown away," Pasierb says.

And parents should consider locking up any prescription drugs that might be abused, he says.

Talk to Your Teens

The prescription-drug death of 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger in January raised awareness about prescription drug abuse, making many teens aware that prescription drugs can be just as deadly as street drugs when they are abused, Pasierb says.

The actor's current high profile as the star of the popular Batman movie The Dark Knight also represents a unique opportunity for parents to talk with their children about prescription drug abuse and drug use in general, he adds.

"Ask your kids what they think of Heath Ledger dying and then really listen to what they say," he says. "Conversations like that will make the difference. It isn't about having the big scary drug conversation. It's about a lot of smaller conversations that aren't so scary."

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