BUFFALO, NY-- Illicit drug use among teenagers has continued at high rates largely due to the popularity of marijuana. The National Institute on Drug Abuse found in 2012 that 17 percent of 10th graders and about 23 percent of 12th graders polled had used marijuana in the past month.
"Our society is going backwards instead of forwards and too many of our kids are losing their dreams, their goals, their lives," said Dick Gallagher of Kids Escaping Drugs.
NIDA finds while marijuana use has gone up the perceived risk among teens has gone down. There has been more public conversation about medical marijuana and the legalization of pot in certain states.
Besides marijuana, it's been found about 15 percent of polled high school seniors used prescription drugs in the past year. Vicodin and cough medicine remain among the most abused by teens.
"The majority of kids get it from their parents and grandparents by going into the medicine cabinet so the question is -- have you locked up those drugs," Gallagher said.
"I feel like kids have become a little more reckless with things and I think that stuff is a little bit more readily available, Paige Prentice with Horizon Health Services said. "So I feel like addiction and the disease and the use of substances has gotten worse."
One of the best things parents can do is talk to their kids.
"Have some very honest conversations with them about what their concerns might be, and if you see things and feel like they're using, talk about how they've become a different kid," said Prentice. "Because as you progress through your disease you become a different kid."
"Our family lost our daughter years ago to alcohol as a result of her addiction. And that pain still resonates with us every day," Gallagher said.