Teens and Prescription Drugs: Little. Legal. Lethal.

Nearly one in five teens has used prescription drugs to get high; one in ten high school seniors has abused prescription drugs in the past year. And that's just what they're willing to admit.

By Alexis Jetter from Reader's Digest | December 2010

On the winding back roads of rural Maine, parents feel increasingly desperate. “Prescription drugs are an epidemic out here,” says Kim,* Jack’s mother. “Three, four, five kids on the road we live on are struggling with it right now. It’s so scary and so sad, and it happens so fast.”

Kim knew her son had been experimenting, but she never guessed that he was taking a whopping 80 mg of OxyContin every few days. That secret spilled out after Jack stole a check from his stepmother.

Kim pulled her son out of school, sent him to a counselor, and helped him break his drug habit. “Parents need to realize the severity of prescription drug abuse,” she says. “When they see it, they need to jump on it. Because it’s a killer.”

The day after Matty Rix died, his grief-stricken father systematically searched every bookshelf, closet, cabinet, and toolbox in the house they had shared. Behind the wrestling trophies and family photographs were pill bottles. But it was the addresses on the vials that shocked Rix and his best friend, Mark Moriarty, who helped him sift through the pile. “We know these people. They’re our neighbors. They’re the parents of our kids’ classmates,” Moriarty says. “When a kid asks, ‘Can I use your bathroom?’ your antenna should go up.”

Rix decided to hold his son’s funeral at the high school where he had been so beloved. “We’re trying to turn this loss into a lesson,” Moriarty told the large crowd gathered in the gym. “The greater the loss, the greater the lesson that must come from it.”

After a short hiatus, Rix returned to coaching and helping other troubled teens. A year to the day after Matty died, a letter appeared on his grave. It was a call for help. “I miss you and our long talks,” the writer had scrawled. “I’m struggling with Oxy addiction. There are times when I want to kill myself.” Rix called the boy and talked to him for nearly an hour. “You’re not alone,” Rix told him.

For Tammi Lizotte, every day holds a reminder of her daughter. Pictures of the laughing young woman line her walls. “Whit had a wicked sense of humor,” she says. “And she was very comfortable in her skin.”

Lizotte, who has some of her daughter’s ashes in a sand dollar pendant around her neck, has also decided to turn her loss into a call for action. At Whitney’s memorial, Lizotte dispensed with formalities. “Everybody here knows Whitney,” she told the gathering that overflowed a local church. “So I’m just going to tell you about her last day.

“She was doing what all of you do. It was a party gone wrong,” she said. “And it could kill you.”

*Names changed to protect privacy

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail

  • Your Comments

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/ANZ6PTVBF54SXG4C4A2MV7747U D J

      I have crused disks in my back and my left knee is worn out,  I am disabled because of this . I drove over the road Motor Coaches simler to Grey Hound bus lines. I was a indepent owner opeartor for many years working for myself .  As the years wore on I wore out the disks in my neck by constanly
      looking for trouble

      I do not understand but people in cars do not see you . I worked with many old school drivers who knew how to drive a million miles with out getting into a accident . Loading and unloading lugge bays kile my back and clutches with 1500 pound rated pressure plates wrecked my knee. I stopped driving in 2005 as thepain became un bearable .  I was prescribed Pain meds and only took them when of duty or not working . I retired in 2005 mainly due to  09 / 11 / 2001 killed the travel and tour industry but more importantly I was not able to drive as Ikilled my body . 

      I had a house for sale and one buyer wanted to see the bathroom and I was distracted by the husband . When they left all my Medcine for pain was stolen . This couplw was in there 40s .  When the house was being showed I kept my medcine in my Car Trunk.   One day a realtor said that she had a be back and asked if she would be able to show the house.  I did forget to put my medcine in my trunk . I said it will be okay.  I saw the realtor coming down the street and left for 30 minutes. 

      A older man and the realtor went in . I came home 40 minutes later and had a buyer at the start of the housing melt down . I went up Stairs  to my bathroom as I could not walk and once again I was robbed
      off my medcine . At closeing I bit my tounge but had the Sheriff show up and found out later after the papers where singed the realtor who was in her 50 s had one of my bottles in Her Pocket .

      This is just not kids stealing either . I did press charges and wonder how many other people did she steel from ? 

      Enough Said Dave