A survey of eighth and ninth graders prescribed medication finds 83.4 percent say they have unsupervised access to the drugs at home.
This included 73.7 percent who took pain relief, anti-anxiety, stimulant and sedative medication that have the potential for abuse, Science Daily reports.
The online survey and in-person interviews with 230 teens is published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
"It was surprising to me that parents were not storing medications securely because I expected them to be locked up and for parents to administer the medications," said lead researcher Paula Ross-Durow, PhD, of the University of Michigan.
She said parents don't think about their teens' friends coming into their homes and stealing medications. In addition, teens may give their prescription drugs away, thinking they are helping a friend and not understanding the risk. They also may not realize their friends may sell the drugs.
"It is critical that clinicians educate parents and patients about the importance of proper storage and disposal of medications, particularly those with abuse potential," the researchers conclude.
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