Overall drug use in the United States is decreasing, according to a new study by the federal government, but there's also an important warning: prescription drugs often become lethal when misused. Six years after her son Ryan's death, Francine Haight's pain is still fresh. "I tried to resuscitate him, but I could not bring him back," Haight said. The 17-year-old overdosed on Vicodin and morphine, prescription drugs he bought over the internet -- without a prescription. Haight said, "At a time when we were worried about our children being exposed to pornography and predators, marijuana and alcohol, we didn't know that these drug dealers were coming right into our family room." An increasing number of teenagers are abusing prescription drugs, according to the new federal government national survey on drug use and health. The survey finds that while overall teen drug use is slightly down, non-medical use of prescription drugs, particularly pain killers, has gone up. In 2002 5.4 percent of 12-17-years-olds used prescription drugs, that jumped to 6.4 percent in 2006. Part of the problem is that pharmaceuticals are so easy to get. John P. Walters with the White House Office of National Drug Control said, "You would not keep heroin and crack in your medicine cabinet and expect it not to be a dangerous hazard." Analysts say many teenagers believe prescription drugs are safer than street drugs, but often use of one leads to abuse of the other. Susan Foster with the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University said, "Younger kids, the 12-, 13-, 14-year-olds were more likely to be abusing prescription drugs than other drugs, but once they start abusing those drugs, there's a higher chance that they'll go on to abuse other drugs." The study finds that parents play a big role in keeping teens drug-free. Teens whose parents were actively involved -- even just helping with homework -- reported less drug, cigarette and alcohol use.
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