Drug abuse on the rise

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Marijuana use among teens is up and prescription drug abuse is also a problem that’s not going away.

According to a new study by the Partnership at Drugfree.org, one in 10 teens is smoking marijuana 20 or more times a month.

“Just when we think we have our youth educated, these studies come out and we see we have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Brian Gustafson, Coroner for Rock Island County.

The problem of drug abuse is even an issue here locally, according to the Rock Island County Coroner’s Office, which says it’s seen a marked increase in the number of drug related deaths.”

“It’s always horrible when someone dies, especially when they’re children,” said Gustafson. “But, when families don’t even realize that their loved one was playing with these drugs, if you will.”

Gustafson says the problem often starts with marijuana, which he calls a gateway drug.

“Marijuana use and abuse leads to use and abuse of other drugs.”

Like, prescription drug use, which the study also finds is unusually high among teens.

“Kids know where to find whatever they want to find. Whether it’s Aderrall or Ritalin, things like that, or pain medications.”

He says there’s a sense of false security when it comes to the little pills.

“These individuals who take these medications think just because a doctor says ‘You can take this.’ They think, if one works, two will work better.”

The Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates legalization, says making pot legal for adults might help cut teen usage.