By Alex Schuman
We're always told medicine is there to help you and for most people that's true. But for some, like Iowa's teenagers, that message can get misconstrued into a belief that the promised benefits of a pill mean it's safe for anyone to take.
"Just because they come from a doctor doesn't make them safe," said Steve Lukan, Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy director. "But they are prescribed for a specific reason, for specific people."
The Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy says more teens than ever in Iowa are abusing prescription drugs.
According to the Partnership @ DrugFreeIowa.org, teenagers can have a hard time understanding how something that their told helps you get healthier can do harm.
"Risk taking is a natural part of maturing and growing up," said Dr. Katie Martin, Mercy's Children Emergency Center.
Dr. Martin sees a steady stream of teens throughout the year who mostly come in Friday nights. She says prescription drug abusers often share the same symptoms as people suffering side effects from a synthetic drug like K2.
Martin thinks prescription drugs and K2's cheap price and broad availability appeals to young users.
"It's not like drinking a beer and going school," said Lukan. "They're easy to transport and conceal."
The Office on Drug Control Policy says the best thing parents can do is properly dispose of any unused pills. And talk to your kids so they do not become one of the nearly 2,500 who try a prescription every day in the U.S.
"The good news is that many of those decide it's not for them and stay clean from there on, but there are an unfortunate number who get turned onto it and unfortunately end up in that statistic of overdose deaths," said Lukan.
If you want to get rid of your unused pills, drop them off at a police station or contact your pharmacist. You can check HERE to see if your pharmacist takes part in the "Take Away" program, which accepts pills and sends them to be incinerated.