Ann Arbor, Mich. (CBS ATLANTA) — Three-in-four teens – in the eighth and ninth grades — have unsupervised and unlimited access to their prescribed stimulant, anti-anxiety and sedative medications.

A new University of Michigan study finds that there is little to no parental control of young teens – who were an average of 14 years of age – and how they consume medicines prescribed to them. More than half of the 500 study participants stated that they have unsupervised access to medicines in locations such as bathroom cabinets or kitchen drawers.

“The lack of parental supervision and proper storage of medicines prescribed to adolescents may facilitate (their) nonmedical use of these medications, putting them at risk for poisoning or overdose,” the study’s lead author Paula Ross-Durow, a research investigator at the U-M Institute for Research on Women and Gender, told

According to a July 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990 and have never been higher. In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs.

The unprecedented rise in overdose deaths in the US parallels a 300 percent increase since 1999 in the sale of these strong painkillers. Such drugs were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008, more than cocaine and heroin combined.

“It is critical that clinicians educate parents and patients about the importance of proper storage and disposal of medications, particularly those with abuse potential,” Ross-Durow told Medicalxpress.

The researchers stated that some parents and guardians may not believe that their children would engage in nonmedical use and, therefore, do not take steps to secure their prescription medications.


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