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The abuse of prescription drugs among teens is growing in New Jersey and is leading to heroin addiction, experts testified at a state hearing this week.

Law enforcement experts told members of the State Commission of Investigation that teens can easily obtain prescription pills, such as Xanax, which has become a ‘gateway drug’ to heroin, according to

Teens are getting the pills from their parents’ medicine cabinets. Because the pills themselves are legal, teens don’t see a stigma in taking them, experts said. Teens turn to heroin when prescription pills become too expensive and don’t provide enough of a high, they reported.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009, 20 percent of U.S. high school students had ever taken a prescription drug, such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin, or Xanax, without a doctor’s prescription.

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