NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Drug Enforcement Administration calls it an epidemic – teens and young adults abusing painkillers, anti-depressants and other prescription pills.

The danger is as close as your medicine cabinet, but on Saturday, you can reduce the risk, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

Since 2003, Linda Surks has been living with a pain that no prescription can cure.

“I’ve learned how to live with the loss,” Surks said. “I felt that there was a hole in my heart.”

Surks’ 19-year-old son, Jason, died from an overdose of prescription pain pills.

“Jason was a wonderful person, he was a beautiful human being,” she said. “It wasn’t until we were called to the emergency room that I discovered he was abusing drugs.”

Drug abuse is a discovery many parents make only when it’s too late. So many teens are getting hooked on painkillers and other prescription drugs that the DEA is calling it an epidemic.

The DEA is taking action, hosting the first ever nationwide prescription drug take-back program. The agency is urging parents to scour the house for unused prescription pills, particularly painkillers, and drop them off at one of 4,000 collection points for safe destruction.

“To make sure that these drugs are not left in homes, where they can easily be obtained by kids,” Surks said.

Experts say abuse of prescription pills often escalates to an addition to heroin.

“As physicians, we prescribe these medications when there’s a need,” Dr. Jacqueline Moline, of North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital, said. “But people need to think. When they’re done with the need for that painkiller, it should get out of their home.”

During Operation Takeback Saturday, Surks will be at the East Brunswick police station, collecting pills and sharing her story.

“You look at my son and you can see, this is not the kind of kid that you picture on a street corner, trying to do a deal on drugs,” she said.

Operation Takeback will have more than 100 collection points in the tri-state, including 25 New York City firehouses.

The collections will take place at the sites from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. To find a collection site near you, you can go to the DEA website here.

Tony Aiello


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