Prescription Drug Abuse Up Among U.S. Teens: Survey

More than 5 million, nearly 25 percent, said they had abused these medications

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One parent speaks from experience.

"I had to learn to set real rules for our home," acknowledged Kat Carnes, a single mom from Houston who has been helping her teenage daughter struggle with an addiction problem that involved a mix of alcohol, street drugs (such as ketamine, ecstasy and cocaine), and prescription meds (including antidepressants).

"She was in 8th grade when all this happened," Carnes recalled. "[But] as I learned more, I discovered that she had been using for a couple of years already, especially during her 7th-grade year, when I was battling breast cancer and not able to focus as closely on her as I probably should have."

Yet, Carnes said the mistakes she made as a parent who initially overlooked her child's growing addiction problem were "pretty common," despite the fact that she is well-versed in medicine and health issues, through her work as a scientific editor and a manager at a major local cancer center.

"I just sort of counted on her to do the right things," Carnes added, "and when she didn't I either tried to minimize it or just hid from it because I didn't know what to do."

Carnes explained that her daughter has now been sober for almost 22 months, with the assistance of a local drug abuse 12-step program and the camaraderie of other families struggling with teen drug abuse. Although careful to describe her daughter's recovery as an ongoing "process," she suggests that much of the progress has been rooted in open and honest communications.

"We hold each other accountable," said Carnes, "for our words and actions."

More information

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will host National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday, where residents can drop off unused or expired prescription drugs at collection sites around the country.

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