WASHINGTON (AP) — More parents need to talk with their teens about the dangers of abusing Ritalin, Adderall and other prescription drugs, suggests a new study of trends involving kids and drug use. The report was released just days before the next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day (Operation Pill Drop), which is Saturday.
When teens were asked about the last substance abuse conversation they had with their parents, just 14 percent said they talked about abusing a prescription drug, said the report from The Partnership at Drugfree.org.
“For parents, it really comes down to not using the power they have because they don’t think this is an immediate problem, meaning their own home, own neighborhood kind of thing,” says Steve Pasierb, president of the partnership. “They believe that this is probably a safer way, not as bad as illegal street drugs.”
By comparison, most teens – 81 percent – said they have talked about the risks of marijuana use with their parents. Almost the same number said they have discussed alcohol with their parents. Almost one-third said they have talked about crack and cocaine.
Some parents didn’t see a significant risk in teens misusing prescription drugs.
One in six parents said using prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs, according to the survey. Almost one-third of the parents said attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications such as Ritalin or Adderall can improve a child’s academic or testing performance even if the teen does not have ADHD.
For Tracey and Jeff Gerl, of Cypress, Texas, their son’s drug abuse problem was a shock.
“We just didn’t know,” said Jeff. He and his wife had the “drugs are bad” talk with their son, Nick, and thought he got the message. They called the parents of friends when he said he was spending the night to make sure an adult would be home. They tried to get to know his friends. Despite their efforts, Nick started smoking pot at the age of 12.