Growing problem in prescription drug abuse

October 19, 2010 2:34:34 PM PDT
One of the most challenging battles in the fight against drug addiction is the one involving prescription drugs.

Experts estimate 7 thousand people each day abuse a prescription drug expert says families can have a problem of abuse under their roof and be unaware.

When Jessica Trickett counsels her patients about the dangers of addiction, she knows what she's talking about. It was while she was in college that Jessica first abused prescription medicine and became addicted herself.

"The first time I tried them it was with a couple of friends, and they were taking them recreationally and so I tried one," said Jessica Trickett.

Moreover, one was all it took. Like thousands of teens who experiment with them each day, Jessica soon found getting hooked on prescription drugs, was almost as easy as getting her hands on them.

"70% of those who misuse these products and abuse them get them from family or friends, usually for free, often from the family medicine cabinet," said Ken Hale from College of Pharmacy in Ohio State University.

It is a message Doctor Ken Hale lectures about as a pharmacy professor at Ohio State University.

He says because many teens and college students assume they are safer than street drugs, they are more likely to try them - and they are doing so in alarming numbers.

"The abuse of prescription drugs now exceeds all of the illegal street drugs that they measure combine, except marijuana," he said.

An online tool created at Ohio State can help educate others on some medicine cabinet musts.

First, put your medicines under lock and key. When you no longer need them, get rid of them properly. Moreover, do not share your prescription meds with anyone.

In addition, experts suggest that parents talk to their children about peer pressure this school year, because taking even one pill without a prescription is one too many.

"It's not OK to just do every once in a while, because it can lead you down this path, and you do not want to go down this path," Jessica said.

Addiction specialists say the drugs most frequently abused are the benzodiasepines, which are mostly anti anxiety drugs like valium and xanax. Second are the pain medications like vicodin and morphine. Experts say these drugs in the house need to be handled with special care because they can put young people at risk.