According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, 2,500 teenagers a day try a prescription drug for the first time (emphasis added). The 2007 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that, "in both 2006 and 2007, over half of the nonmedical users of prescription-type pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives aged 12 or older said they got the drugs they used most recently 'from a friend or relative for free.'" In 2007, 5.2% of those who used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons indicated that they had stolen the substance from a friend or relative. The NSDUH also reported that, during 2007, prescription drug use was 2nd only to marijuana use in youths ages 12-17.

Clearly, the combination of availability and curiosity can be a dangerous one for both parents and teens, and might lead a teen to try a prescription drug. Because there is minimal risk and expense associated with looking through and stealing from the medicine cabinets of family and friends, teens may be more likely to try a prescription drug than a non-prescription, illegal substance like heroin or cocaine. A teen may have the misconception that because the substance is "medicine" and "prescribed by a doctor," it can't harm them. In reality, as some parents have had to learn the hard way, misuse, abuse, and overdoses of these medicines can cause serious long-term consequences and may even result in death.

Teenagers are at a crucial stage of personal development when they often value the opinions of friends over those of their parents. Trying to fit in with a desirable group of friends at school or in the neighborhood might make them more likely to give into social pressures. Today, this could mean a lethal cocktail of multiple prescription drugs and alcohol. In a 2006 USA Today article, Donna Leinwand examined the growing trend of "pharm (short for pharmaceutical) parties". Prior to these events, teens harvest, or "pharm" their families' medicine cabinets, then mix their finds with those of other attendees; over the course of the evening, the teens experiment with different combinations of drugs, not considering the potentially lethal consequences. Websites have been created that provide "recipes" of different drug combinations that promise varying highs.

It is important for parents to be very aware of their teen's behavior, friends, and social events. Additionally, in the same way that they protected their children when they were toddlers by keeping toxic cleaning and other chemicals out of reach, parents should consider removing both prescription and over-the-counter medications from their medicine cabinet, only allowing their child or teen to use them as instructed by a doctor at the parent's discretion. Teens are often perceptive, and if they observe habits in their parents – even those sanctioned by a doctor – they may argue for their right to follow the same course; for this reason, it may be better to keep your prescription needs between yourself, your doctor, and your spouse or partner. Even if you are certain that your teen is not using or abusing prescription drugs, taking precautionary measures and communicating with your teen openly and frequently could help prevent a tragedy. They may even gain the courage to confront a friend about prescription drug use.