When teens want to get high, many don’t even have to leave home. All it takes is a visit to their parents’ medicine cabinet.
Prescription drug abuse — big problem among adults — is also spreading in schools. Kids are secretly reaching for painkillers, tranquilizers and stimulants prescribed for mom or dad, with many parents completely unaware.
Cyrus Stowe, a 17-year old in Dallas, Texas, decided to expose the problem at his high school and the resulting documentary, “Out of Reach,” is a startling look at students popping pills without restraint.
“It doesn't look harmful, there's no needle and they have no idea what they're taking in a lot of cases,” Cyrus told NBC special anchor Maria Shriver as part of TODAY’s series on the secret lives of teens.
“What we found out was, we'd go into the restroom and students right before a test would go into a stall, pop an Adderall, sometimes snort it, and trade more hard drugs like Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, and just take them as if it was vitamin C.”
For some kids, the problem starts in middle school. Prescription medications are the most abused drugs among 12- and 13-year olds, the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found.
When taken in different amounts or for different purposes than prescribed, they can produce a high just like illegal drugs, and have some of the same harmful effects, including the potential for addiction and overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Experts say most parents never warn their children about the danger or set a bad example themselves.