This is the final installment in a three-part series on prescription drug use and abuse among CNY youth.
As the spotlight is turned on the newest trend in teenage substance abuse, parents and school administrators are learning that the two places their kids were supposed to be safest - at home and at school - are the places most kids have found access to prescription drugs.
The Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland reported last month teens aged 12 to 17 said it would be easier for them to purchase prescription drugs than beer.
"Kids can order drugs on the internet -- you could and so could a 13-year-old," Elizabeth Berry, clinical psychologist at Crouse Hospital, said. "Some of these pills sell for $20 a pill."
One Central New York high school freshman, who wished to remain anonymous, believed prescription drugs were easier for teens to obtain than tobacco products and marijuana.
"Some kids just go into their parents' cupboards and take them," she said.
A group activity
But buying power is not always a part of the abuse equation.
Half of the time, prescription drugs come without a price tag to students, who often steal them from family or friends' homes and share them with others.
For teens, popping pills is a social activity, and a dangerous one - but those risks may not be fully recognized by teens.
When her peers began using prescription drugs recreationally in seventh and eighth grade, our anonymous teen said she worried at first about the dangers.
"But it seems so common now that it doesn't phase me as much," she added. She sees some of her classmates abusing prescription drugs to fit in, but said, "most kids that do drugs don't try to pressure anyone else into it."