According to a new survey conducted by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, as well as MetLife Foundation, prescription drug abuse among teens is a growing national problem. Since 2008, the number of high school students abusing prescription drugs has risen from 33 percent, with 13 percent of teens acknowledging having experimented at least once with either Ritalin or Adderall that was not prescribed to them.

The survey found that 20 percent of teens who admitted to having abused prescription drugs said their first experience occurred before the age of 14. Around 27 percent of these teens said they mistakenly believed that prescription drug abuse is safer than taking street drugs.

How are parents dealing with all this? While about four in five teens said they had discussed alcohol and marijuana use with their parents and nearly one third said they had spoken with them about crack/cocaine, only 14 to 16 percent said the topic of painkiller and prescription drug abuse had come up in conversation.

Surprisingly, one third of the parents who participated in the survey reported falling for the same mistaken belief that drugs like Ritalin or Adderall can enhance a child’s school performance even if the child is not diagnosed with ADHD. And 20 percent of parents admitted to willfully giving their teen a prescription medication they had in their cabinet, for which their child had no prescription.

Prescription drug abuse-taking a prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing physician-is an offense that can be punished under federal and state law. Those facing such charges have need of solid defense so that charges against them have as little impact as possible.

Source: WAFB.com, “Prescription drug abuse up among US teens,” Alan Mozes, April 23, 2013