Many teens obtain prescription drugs from their family or friends.  Since prescription drugs are widely available in the home, teens often do not have to go far to find ways to get high.  Other teens turn to the internet and social media for prescription drugs; the internet also plays a big role in providing information and advice to teens.

Here are a Few Things to Consider:

Your teen probably knows a lot more about the internet than you do.  It’s never too late for parents to jump in and get acquainted with various websites, networking systems, and the lingo teens use to fly under parents’ radars.

Some pharmacies operating on the internet are legal, and some are not.  In fact, according to the National Association of Boards and Pharmacy (NABP), 20 new illegal pharmacies appear on the web each day.  Some of the legal internet pharmacies have voluntarily sought certification as Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) from NABP.  “Rouge” pharmacies pretend to be authentic by operating websites that advertise powerful drugs without a prescription or with the “approval” of a “doctor” working for the drug trafficking network.  Teens have access to these websites and are exposed to offers of prescription drugs through email spam and pop-ups.  No one should use a website to purchase a prescription drug unless:

  • The person has obtained a valid prescription from a medical practitioner who has conducted an in-person medical evaluation of the person and
  • The website is operating in accordance with the Ryan Haight Act.*

If you become aware of someone distributing prescription drugs or selling them on a suspicious internet pharmacy site, you can report it to the DEA 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by using the RxAbuse online reporting tool located at or by calling the DEA hotline tool free at 1-877-RxAbuse (1-877-792-2873)

Social media sites play a role in providing information and advice to teens on how to use prescription drugs to get high.  Parents should be aware of which sites their teens are visiting and should examine credit card and bank statements.  They should also check the browser history to see which sites their teens are visiting on their computers and cell phones.

The internet is a tremendous resource for teens to learn about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.  However, it is also full of information about how to use prescription drugs to o get high, how much to use, what combinations work best, and what a user can expect to experience.

Parents and teens need to understand that when over-the-counter and prescribed medications are used to get high, they are every bit as dangerous as “street drugs”.  And when prescribed drugs are used by or distributed to individuals without a prescription, they are ILLEGAL and can be DEADLY!

*Ryan Haight Act- Francine Haight, Ryan’s mother, shares her son’s story with the world.  Ryan overdosed and died on February 12, 2001, on narcotics (Vicodin) that he had easily purchased on the internet.  A medical doctor on the internet that he never saw prescribed them.  The internet pharmacy mailed them to his home. He was only 17 when he purchased them.  Through the efforts of Francine Haight and members of Congress, with the support from Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 was enacted.  The Act aims to remove and prosecute unscrupulous or rogue internet pharmacies that sell controlled prescription medicines to persons without a prescription from a registered physician.  These pharmacies lack quality assurance and accountability.  The law has enabled DEA to prosecute cybercriminals supplying controlled substances and to shut down the illegal online pharmacies.

DEA’s Role in Keeping People Safe

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) plays a critical role in preventing prescription drug misuse and abuse.

  • DEA investigates physicians who sell prescriptions to drug dealers or who overprescribe drugs; pharmacists who falsify records and then sell the drugs; employees who steal from drug inventory; executives who falsify orders to cover illicit sales; prescription forgers, and persons who commit armed robbery of pharmacies and drug distributors.
  • DEA investigates illegal internet pharmacies. Rogue pharmacies exist to profit from the sale of controlled prescription medications to buyers who have not seen a doctor and do not have a prescription from a registered physician.  The pharmacies lack quality assurance and accountability, and their products pose a danger to the buyers.
  • DEA works with state, local, and foreign partners to interdict controlled substances and chemicals used to make drugs.
  • DEA’s authority to enforce laws and regulations comes from the Controlled Substances Act, Title 21 of the United States Code. DEA also provides fact-based timely information to the public about the dangers of illegal drugs and the non-medical use of prescription drugs through publications, websites, and presentations.

Feel free to reach out to Brenda Schell, Diversion Outreach Coordinator at if you have questions or would like to schedule a presentation.