Law enforcement officials and the Virginia Attorney General's Office are launching a campaign to crack down on teen prescription drug abuse.
The message is for Virginians to lock up their prescription drugs before they get into the wrong hands. State leaders say it's becoming an epidemic nationwide, including in the Commonwealth. Teenagers are taking advantage of easy access to prescription drugs.
Anne Reardon believes her son did it to calm down for a big test. This is the first time the teen's mother is sharing her story.
"Two days later, he put a gun to his head and killed himself," recounts Anne Reardon. Her 17-year-old son, Robert, died two years ago after suspected prescription drug abuse.
"I discovered later he had taken Adderall for the SATs. He did not have a prescription for Adderall," she said.
Reardon is working with the Attorney General's Office and law enforcement to prevent other families from experiencing what she has.
"6.1 million people over the age of 12 use prescription drugs for non-medical reasons," said Drug Enforcement Agent Terrence Sullivan. He says abusers don't have to look far to find a fix. "It's reported that the majority of teens and young adults obtain prescription drugs from friends and relatives, sometimes without their knowledge."
Tuesday, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli encouraged families to use lock boxes to safely store drugs. His office is giving lock boxes to PTAs and other groups to use as demonstrations.
"We don't want to see kids starting drug habits because of what they stumble on at home or because of what they have easy access to at home. We have to ensure that our medicine cabinets don't become our neighborhood drug suppliers," he said.
Reardon believes it's well worth it if it means saving a life.
"I believe what he had done was he had gotten Ambien so he can come down from the high of Adderall, the anxiety, trying to bring himself down...I am compelled not to let this happen to another child," she said.
Since 2011, Virginia drug agents have collected 72,000 pounds of unused prescriptions through drug take-back efforts all over the state. The next take back will happen in October, but that awareness campaign is already in full swing.
"Dad never locks anything up," a teen actor says in a new public service announcement the Attorney General's Office is marketing all across the Commonwealth.
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