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Researchers Find Disturbing New Trend in US Teen Drug Abuse

Researchers with the National Institute on Drug Abuse have identified a new area of great concern. Increasingly teenagers and even younger children are getting 'high' on prescription and nonprescription drugs. Paul Sisco reports.

While illegal teen drug use continues to decline overall -- down 23 per cent since 2001 in the United States -- the annual survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found some areas of serious concern.

Prescription drug misuse is a persistent problem in the U.S.. More and more young people are using prescription narcotics, tranquilizers, and even over-the-counter medicines like cough syrup ... illegally.

Youth counselor, Dan Franz says the potency is very high. "Kids use this at such a high potency that it's just as potent as cocaine or heroine or crystal meth."

Case in point: 16-year-old Brad Shaw, who has now recovered. "As soon as I got to school, I would pop some pills. Once lunch time hit, I'd skip lunch and go to the parking lot or bathrooms and use drugs."

Brad's drugs came right out of the medicine cabinet. Even cough syrups can be a problem. Sara started at 13. Now 16 years-old, "I would always take a look at the recommended dose, you know don't take more than eight in 24 four hours and I would double that and I would take 16 to make sure that I, that I would get high."

Doctor LLoyd Johnston, the survey's principal investigator, says some cough syrups can be dangerous. "So this is actually an area of drug abuse we now need to pay more attention to. Young people do not fully appreciate the dangers of using these drugs, they can cause a number of things up and including brain damage and death."

There's now an ad campaign to target the problem.

Among the report's important recommendations, be aware of the dangers. And parents -- throw out those medications you are no longer using.