Recently dubbed Generation Rx, 21st-century teens are more likely to abuse prescription drugs and over the counter (OTC) medications than heroin, ecstasy or cocaine, according to a study by Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The only illegal drug more likely to be abused by teens is marijuana.

In the study, teens told researchers that prescription drugs are "safer" and easier to access than street drugs. They admit they get their drugs from home medicine cabinets, by swapping pills with friends and by purchasing them from online pharmacies.

In online forums, teenagers who go "freestyle" with prescription drugs confide that they skim the Internet to find dosage advice, drug mixing for the best "high" and how to obtain OTC substances in stronger, purer amounts.

Parents have fought back by taking control of the medicine cabinet. Like their children, these parents are online, sharing ideas and discussing solutions, such as medicine cabinet locks, techniques for tracking prescriptions (handwritten sticky notes on pill bottles with regular counts of unused pills or medicine log files), learning the street names for OTC cough and cold medicines (skittles, velvet, robo) and sharing stories about how they helped their teens pull away from addictive behaviours.

From Focus on Your Child’s Teen Phases, April 2008. Published by Focus on the Family. © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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