A new study indicates parents and caregivers are too lax and ineffectively communicating with teens about drug abuse, after finding a 33 percent increase in misuse and abuse of prescription medication such as Ritalin and Adderall in the last five years.

"These data make it very clear: the problem is real, the threat immediate and the situation is not poised to get better," said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "Parents fear drugs like cocaine or heroin and want to protect their kids. But the truth is that when misused and abused, medicines - especially stimulants and opioids - can be every bit as dangerous and harmful as those illicit street drugs."

Experts are pushing parents to take more responsibility because medicine abuse is preventable especially at home. It's also avoidable if parents start implementing control at an early age when they're more likely to become addicted.

The study was conducted between February and June last year and involved surveying 3,884 teens in grades 9 through 12. More than 800 adults were also given questionnaires between august and October last year.

Investigators finally concluded that one in four teens, totaling to five million teens, have misused or abused prescription medication at least once in their lifetime. This is a 33 percent increase from the past five years. They also found 13 percent of teens reported they took Ritalin or Adderall at least once when it wasn't prescribed for them.

"We need to make sure that children and adolescents receive a thorough assessment before being placed on stimulant medications, and that if medication is prescribed to a child, it should only be as one component of a comprehensive ADHD management plan," said Alain Joffe, MD, MPH, Director, Student Health and Wellness Center at Johns Hopkins University and Former Chairman, American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Substance Abuse.

Despite all these consequences, one-third of parents find the stimulants could improve school performance, including giving it to teens who don't have ADHD. Researchers are saying these actions could harm the development of a teen's brain.

Other substance abuse was also recorded in teens, such as cigarette smoking inhalant abuse, methamphetamine, cocaine and steroid all have remained stable. Alcohol abuse has increased 10 percent from 2008, while the past year indicated a decline in ecstasy, which is at 8 percent.

The researchers find parents are not to blame, but use their power to curb drug abuse by safeguarding their cabinets and limit risky behavior.

Ritalin, which contains Methylphenidate, and Adderall, containing Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine, could be used to control ADHD symptoms, where patients have a hard time focusing and controlling their actions. It's also used for sleep disorders.

"It's about missed opportunities to protect their kids by having direct conversations with them about the health risks of misusing and abusing medicines - and to then moving to safeguard the medicines in their own home," Pasierb said. "Parental apathy on this issue is contributing to the problem. Yet the same data show year in and year out that kids who learn a lot about the risks of drug use at home are up to half as likely to use as kids who don't get that life-changing gift from their parents."