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More teens abusing medications, study shows

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(WTVM) -

Parents, if you have prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet...you need to listen to this.

A new study just released says more kids are abusing prescription drugs.

When teenagers were asked about the last talk they had with their parents about substance abuse, just 14 percent said they talked about abusing a prescription drug.

The report released by the partnership at drugfree.org shows one in four teenagers said they had abused a prescription drug at least once. 

That's up 33 percent in just the last five years. One in eight teens reported misusing or abusing the drugs Ritalin or Adderall, stimulants prescribed to treat ADHD.

We spoke with Dr. Joseph Zanga with the Medical Center in Columbus about this problem.

 "We need to tell children, adolescents the same about these prescription drugs as we tell them about street drugs, as we tell them about alcohol, as we tell them about tobacco," said Dr. Zanga. "We need to them these are not things they should be using and certainly not abusing."

What's as equally disturbing is one in six parents said using prescription drugs to get high is safer than street drugs.

A third of parents said attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medications such as Ritalin or Adderall can improve a child's academic or testing performance even if the teen doesn't have ADHD.

Dr. Zanga says that's not true.

 "Medications that are used for ADHD are rewiring their child's brain, making the brain work differently. Now in some cases that's good because the children need it," Dr. Zanga said. "But if they don't need it it's not going to help them do better in school, not going to improve their performance on the athletic field. It's not going to do anything to help someone who doesn't need it."

Dr. Zanga advises parents to lock up prescription medications and check them often for misuse.   

The study offers this advice for parents: talk early and often with your children about the dangers of drugs, including prescription drugs.

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