ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The prescription drugs allegedly found in Al Gore III's possession Wednesday are favorites among young people, according to drug abuse experts, who say prescription drugs may soon overtake street drugs in popularity.
Some young people perceive that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs, experts say.
"I wouldn't be surprised if right now at this point in time, there are more kids abusing prescription drugs than abusing marijuana," said Joseph A. Califano Jr., chairman and president of CASA, the National Center on Alcohol and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Gore was arrested on charges of possessing -- in addition to marijuana -- Vicodin, Xanax, Valium and Adderall...
...Another appeal to prescription drugs, besides the easy access, is that young people often perceive them as safer.
"They don't have to go to the streets and deal with some guy they don't know and get marijuana where they don't know what's in it," Califano said. "Also, they see their parents using these drugs, so they seem safe."
Jack said prescription drugs can be more challenging to treat than addiction to street drugs. "In traditional drug abuse, addicts can say, 'I've been using meth or coke or pot,' and an addiction specialist knows what to do," she said. But with prescription drugs, "sometimes the kids don't even know what they've been taking. They just pass the pills around."
Part of the solution would be for drug makers to formulate their products so they're harder to abuse, said Califano, adding that anti-drug campaigns also should focus more on prescription drug abuse.
Parents need to do their part as well, he said. "When I was a kid in Brooklyn, when parents had liquor, they locked up the liquor cabinet," he said. "Maybe parents need to lock up the medicine cabinet."
And from an article written by Erin Hildebrandt for Mothering Magazine:
(Our kids) need every shred of information we can give them, so that they do not choose to huff butane or snort heroin simply because they survived smoking the joint we told them was dangerous, and because they therefore assume we must be lying about the rest.