Prescription drug abuse becoming a bigger problem for area teens - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Prescription drug abuse becoming a bigger problem for area teens

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Chippewa Falls (WQOW)- Prescription drug abuse is believed to be the fastest growing drug problem in this country.  Among teens, it is a major concern.  Illegal use of prescription drugs could soon top the use of marijuana among Wisconsin teens.

"Kids don't know what the drugs are doing," points out Chippewa County Juvenile Intake Worker Michael Weber,

Years ago, most parents didn't have to worry about their kids getting into the medicine cabinet.  Times have changed.  Every day in this country, about 2,000 teens begin using drugs that weren't prescribed to them.

"I had a case a number of years ago where kids were just going through a medicine cabinet of a relative, pulling out different drugs and they thought they would earn some money on the side by putting a price to each one of the drugs," Weber remembers.  "He didn't have any clue what the drugs were.  Some were pretty benign, but others were dangerous."

Weber deals with kids as young as 12.

"Sometimes middle school kids even, they can become susceptible to their peers and want to fit in," Weber explains.  "If somebody says try this.  You are going to get a good high.  Unfortunately sometimes kids will do that."

The Chippewa Falls Police Department says the abuse of prescription drugs has made its way into local schools.  In fact, that's the place where a lot of it is being moved.

"We've had cases involving prescription medications at school; some on school grounds; some just off school grounds," says Officer Matthew Kelm with the Chippewa Falls Police Department.

Oxycontin, Vicodin, Xanax, Adderall and Valum are just a sample of what teens have been known to try.

"These kids, the ones that are really into it know exactly what they are getting into.  But the ones they sell it to don't always." Kelm explains.  "Very few of these kids I think are looking it up online to make sure that what they are taking is actually what they think they are taking.  They don't know the dosages and it can be fatal."

Police send the message to parents: Know who you're child is hanging out with and whether anything's missing from the medicine cabinet.

The Center for Disease Control says prescription drugs are linked to more overdose deaths than both cocaine and heroin combined.  Local police departments have drop off spots where you can safely throw away expired drugs.

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