Guest: Trey Author


Where Do Teens Find Drugs?

Check Your Medicine Cabinet

Teens can encounter drugs in a number of ways. At school, with friends, from drug dealers — these are all possible avenues for teens to find drugs. However, most teens do not have to leave their home to find drugs these days. A trip to the medicine cabinet has become the fastest and easiest way to get high.

The medicine cabinet is a one-stop shop for teens looking to find an easy high. Prescription drugs such as painkillers, ADHD medications and anti-anxiety medications are highly sought after by teens. To make matters worse, more Americans have unused prescription medications in their homes than ever before, which many experts attribute to the rise in prescription drug abuse.

“As America faces an explosive prescription drug abuse problem, parents need to be aware that their family medicine cabinet and the internet have become today’s back alley drug dealers,” said Michele Leonhart, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, in the DEA resource guide Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine.

Prescription drugs are the most widely used substances among illicit drug users behind marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2010, 26 percent of first-time drug users started by abusing prescription drugs.

According to multiple studies, including research from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, as many as one in five teens have used prescription drugs to get high in their lifetime. One in 10 teens has used over-the-counter cough syrup or cold medicine to get high.

Rates of teen opioid abuse are particularly alarming. According to the DEA, 10 percent of teens say they have used a pain medication to get high in the past year, and 6 percent say they used a pain medication to get high in the past 30 days.

How Do I Keep My Teen from Abusing Prescription Drugs?

Prevention is a lot simpler than most parents or guardians think; it does not take an army of DEA agents and drug counselors to prevent your teen from abusing prescription drugs. There are four simple precautions you can take:

  1. Take inventory of your medications:
    Knowing what medications you have in your home, the amount and where they are located can help you keep track of whether your teen is stealing prescription drugs to get high.
  2. Dispose of unwanted or unused medications:
    Forgotten or old medications are prime targets for teens looking to find an easy high. Prescription drug disposal sites at places such as police stations are becoming more common and allow people to safely dispose of unused medications that could fall into the hands of teens.
  3. Lock up your medicine cabinet:
    Teens cannot steal prescription drugs if they cannot access them. Locking up your medicine cabinet is an extremely effective way to prevent prescription drug abuse in your home.
  4. Talk to your teen about the dangers of prescription drugs:
    Often, teens believe that taking prescription drugs to get high is safer than illicit drugs. It is important for parents and guardians to teach their kids from a young age that prescription drugs are just as dangerous as illicit ones.


Taking the steps listed above and having open, honest conversations with your teen about the risks of substance abuse can help your child stay healthy and drug free.


trey-image Written by: Trey Dyer

Trey Dyer is a writer and content creator for  He is a proponent of substance use disorder treatment. When Trey is not working, he can be found surfing, hiking and fly fishing.



U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2012, August). Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine. Retrieved from

Johnston, L. et al. (2016, September 6). Marijuana use continues to rise among U.S. college students; use of narcotic drugs decline. Retrieved from

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. (n.d.). Preventing Teen Abuse of Prescription Drugs Fact Sheet. Retrieved from

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