ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Clinical director of Serenity Center of Louisiana, Beau Dantin, says substance abuse tends to start in the teenage years, in a place one might least expect.
"Every home has the potential to have an addictive substance in it," said Dantin.
Imagine you get a prescription painkiller, then decide you can manage without it. The medicine most likely goes into an unlocked medicine cabinet. Ascension Parish Schools Superintendent David Alexander says that action could provide unintentional, but easy access for children.
"We do have as early as sixth graders and through high school, a number of our students, admitting to using prescription drugs," said Alexander.
Dantin says often times, a child will either experiment with the drug or pass it along to a friend.
Statistics from the statewide Louisiana Caring Community Youth Survey revealed a group of students in Ascension Parish abused prescription medicine found in their parents' homes. In response, the board decided to take part in a national campaign, called Lock Your Meds, to make sure parents understand the risks associated with prescription medications.
If younger kids start using prescription drugs, such as codeine and oxycodone, the more likely it is to turn into an addiction, according to Dantin.
"The younger you start using, the more you stunt your brain growth and the more likely you are to continue to use because of that part of your brain, you're stunting its growth, it's part of that reasoning skill," he said.
Alexander says prevention is a good first step and that starts with the parents. "If it's one student or ten students or a small number, then we don't want it to grow bigger. We want to protect that small number out there that just may not be aware."
"Put their drugs in a place that's out of reach of young children, number one, and lock it up," said Dantin.
Serenity Center of Louisiana is a 30-day residential inpatient treatment facility where clients ages 18 and older can seek help for addiction and substance abuse.