On ABC 19 – RISE TOGETHER Survey: Wisconsin middle and high school students using hard drugs

A new survey says middle and high school students are using hard drugs and experts say a lot of the time the drugs are coming right from home.

This is causing concern for health leaders in Central Wisconsin.

“Anytime you enter a substance into a young brain you're doing irreversible damage in some parts,” said therapist Lee Shipway.

And according to a study by Rise Together, a youth advocacy group, some Wisconsin students are starting young.

According to the survey almost 20 percent of teenage drug users start at age 15.

“With the rise in pop culture making substance abuse attractive to our youth I think it's something that we need to pay attention to,” said Melissa Dotter with the Drug Free Communities Program.

The study also shows almost 68 percent of Wisconsin middle and high school students surveyed say they have used alcohol or other substances.

The survey found prescription pills are the most common type of hard drug Wisconsin teenagers are using with almost 18 percent of students saying they've given them a try.

“They are getting them from the moms and dads and grandparents medicine cabinets,” said Shipway.

Experts say this can be a slippery slope.

“It's extremely dangerous, they can lead to things like methamphetamine use, it can lead to heroin addiction,” said Dotter.

Health leaders are pleading with parents to take action.

“It is something that we want people to really secure and monitor their medications and if they're not using them to use one of our local drop box locations,” said Dotter.

According to experts drug use at a young age can lead to more problems later in life.

“You're setting that child up to have a lifelong addiction and it's much, much more difficult to kick a habit like that when you start at a young age,” said Shipway.

The survey shows more than 50 percent of students say they started using substances because they were curious.

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