Rise in teen prescription drug abuse

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Talking to your teen is important when it comes to prescription drug abuse.

Sue McCollum has an open relationship with her son when it comes to discussing the dangers of drug abuse.

“You can't be with blinders on, you're gonna have to just open your eyes because what happens is if you lose them for a while you don't know if it's that's one that's just gonna go all the way down and is gone," explained McCollum.

A new report released from The Partnership at Drugfree.Org confirmed teen prescription drug abuse is up by 33% and 1 in 6 parents believe using prescription drugs is safer than using street drugs.

Chad Williams of the Mesa County Sheriff's Office says prescription meds can be just as detrimental to a teen as street drugs and it's important for parents to educate themselves and their teen.

“We get caught in the medicine vs. drug semantics, that type of thing, but you really have to address prescription drugs as well as cough syrup. You have to talk to them about any of the drugs that are going to interact and be a psycho-active drug into their brain," explained Williams.

Michael Costello, a therapist and addictions counselor at The Alpha Center says a lot of parents want someone else to talk to their teenagers about drug use, such as a counselor or therapist, but he feels parents should talk to their kids first.

“But really, every study that I've read on what's going on in a teenagers mind, the most important person in their lives or the most important people are their parents," says Costello.

Teens are throwing "skittles parties" where they throw all the pills they snag from home into a bowl and take a few- not knowing what exactly they are ingesting.

“If you're grabbing just a cocktail of pills to throw down your throat, you're being very dangerous and pretty reckless. You have no idea what's in there and what you're mixing. You mix the wrong two and it could be a bad night for you," says Williams.

Officials say awareness and education play a key role in keeping your teen safe. That's why McCollum will continue to keep an open line of communication with her son.

“I think he's smart enough to know not to, but like I said l walk by and I’ll look and make sure he acts the way I know him to be,” said McCollum.

If you want to learn more about prescription drug abuse you will have the opportunity to do so at the end of the summer. Chad Williams, of the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, will be holding a free class dedicated entirely to prescription drugs. The class is a part of the Mesa County Safe Kids community classes.

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