Is Your Teen Abusing Drugs Found in Your Own Home?

More teens are raiding medicine cabinets for prescription drugs at home.

ByABC News
February 09, 2009, 6:04 PM

Feb. 6, 2008 — -- At 17 years old, Greg had an insatiable drug habit. But rather than find a drug dealer, Greg raided the family medicine cabinet to get his fix.

"It started with Xanax, Percocet and Vicodin. I used to call myself a pharmacist," the young recovering addict said.

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Greg was a good student and thought prescription pills were a "smarter" way to get high.

"I could rationalize and justify taking these pills because doctors made these. It wasn't like I was buying a white bag on the street," he explained.

Greg has been sober for about six years.

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But doctors say that whether taken alone or mixed, the painkillers teens are abusing are as deadly as street heroin. The proof can be seen in emergency rooms across the country.

The number of lethal prescription drug overdoses has soared 84 percent in five years. And now, more people die from prescription drug overdoses than cocaine and heroin combined.

Abuse prevention expert Linda Surks said, "There's a perception that they are safe … and that can't be further from the truth."

Surks had been working in drug prevention for more than a decade, when her son, Jason, overdosed and died.

"He had a combination of Vicodin, Oxycontin and Xanax in his system," she said.

Jason was a 19-year-old sophomore at Rutgers University, majoring in pharmacy. His mother had no idea he was ordering and using drugs from the Internet without a prescription.

An ABC News team placed an online order. Less than 24 hours later, a bottle of antidepressants was delivered to the team's doorstep. No one asked for a prescription or any identification. All they wanted was a credit card number. It is illegal, but that doesn't stop thousands of Web sites from selling drugs.

Frustrated advocacy groups can only warn parents that the teen drug of choice shouldn't be stored next to the toothpaste.

Steve Pasierb, president of Drug-Free America, said, "Sometimes these don't belong in your medicine cabinet. Sometimes they belong in the family safe."

With click-and-point drug dealers delivering, childproof caps just don't cut it anymore.

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