Liz Wiggins is a mother of three.
She and her husband recently moved to Leander from the Woodlands area not long after the death of her youngest son David. Wiggins says David was a great kid.
But when Wiggins and David's dad split when he was just 13, she noticed a change.
He started running with the wrong crowd, committing crimes and smoking marijuana.
"We were talking to him about it being a gateway drug. And he was like 'No mom, don't worry. I'm not gonna do anything to hurt me.' He admitted he was smoking pot and he liked it," Wiggins said.
But with his high school graduation approaching, David did end up doing something very harmful...something that ended his life.
Becky Vance with The Partnership says new statistics show prescription drug abuse and misuse has increased 33 percent over the past five years.
"Eighty percent of parents are talking to their kids about marijuana and heroin and cocaine. But only 16 percent are talking to them about prescription medicine. This is something that's just not on parent's radar," Vance said.
The study says 49 percent of parents say anyone can access their medicine cabinets.
Sixteen percent of parents believe using prescription drugs to get high is safer than street drugs and 29 percent of parents think taking ADHD medication can actually help their kid's academic performance...even if they don't have ADHD.
"The pills that are on the rise are medications like Ritalin and Adderall. And those are prescribed for people who have ADHD. If you have ADHD and you take that medication, it mellows you out and you can focus and your attention is where it's supposed to be but if you don't have it, it's just like snorting cocaine," Vance said.
Vance says the solution is for parents to get educated. Communicate the dangers to their kids and lock up the medicine cabinet.
Angela Vickery with "Austin Recovery" says it's not just prescription pills. Teens and young adults are now looking for whatever high they can get and with easy-to-get drugs like bath salts, K-2 and spice, the selection has broadened.
"It is getting complex. More with the designer drugs than the prescription drugs. As far as a treatment perspective, knowing how to treat that, knowing how to detox people, knowing those sorts of things we can do that through pretty much any of the prescription drugs. But there's designer drugs out there that are creating a reaction or a set of symptoms that is sometimes unpredictable and sometimes unmanageable," Vickery said.
Scott Lynch also works at Austin Recovery.
He's a former prescription pill addict. And it all started with smoking marijuana when he was 14. Soon he wanted something harder.
"What once was a social, fun thing to do eventually turned into kind of a goose hunt. Chased around to see how I could get Xanax, who had them, if I had to cross town, how much I had to pay for them. It became more of a burden. It became more of a hassle to get that same high that once I enjoyed as a social thing," Lynch said.
Before long, his inebriation reached a boiling point when he got into a brutal fight that resulted in a 12 year prison sentence.
Now, Lynch has been sober for five years.
He's thankful that through it all, his dad was constantly trying to make him realize what he was doing to himself.
"I think as a parent, whenever you intervene with a child, you're gonna be met with the child pushing back, you're gonna be met with defiance. The best advice I can give is 'be persistent'…do not give up. Because it's worth it to save a child's life," Lynch said.
For Liz Wiggins, the extent of her son David's problems were not quite as apparent.
She says David was trying to get back on the right track. He joined the boxing team and he was ready to do something positive with his life.
But one Saturday in 2011, hanging out with friends at a tire store, he slipped.
"He was offered from another friend...a patch. And I heard he turned him down. He said 'No man I'm not gonna do that.' And he said 'Oh no you're gonna like it…it's gonna make you feel really good,'" Wiggins said.
Wiggins says that patch contained something called Fentanyl, a pain reliever for cancer patients.
David was told to cut the patch and ingest some of the gel inside.
"There was a party later on that night. He went to a party and they noticed he was throwing up. But you know with kid drinking, they didn't think anything of it," Wiggins said.
The next morning, David didn't wake up.
Wiggins had to wait eight weeks to find out that it was the Fentanyl that had killed her son.
She was angry with the friends who were with David at the time. But she had to forgive them.
"Just the look on their faces when they were looking at him in the casket. And I just hope they...I told each of them, this needs to stop!" Wiggins said.
Right after David died, his pastor brought her a letter David had written to him the summer before telling the church about everything he had been through and thanking God for giving him a second chance.
"He kept me free when I should have spent my teen years in a jail cell. He gave me way too many chances and just helped me through it all."
"I learned that you get nothing good out of doing bad things, and you get nothing bad out of doing good things," David wrote.
"I feel like a limb has been ripped off. The bleeding won't stop and I just have to learn to live with it. And I will forever be in pain...and it's excruciating," Wiggins said.
For more shocking statistics from that study we mentioned, you can visit The Partnership's website at www.drugfree.org.