(NaturalNews) No parent wants to lose a child, but when one dies from something that should be very preventable, the heartbreak and tragedy is compounded. Such is increasingly the case with prescription drugs – they’re killing our youth.

Sarah Shay and Savannah Kissick, of Morehead, Ky., best friends since high school, were both victims of what experts and the White House are describing as an epidemic of prescription drug deaths. Sarah died in 2006 at the tender age of 19; Savannah just three years later, at 22.

Since the medications they were using were prescribed by physicians, some experts believe they carry some sort of legitimacy. But the fact is they are being abused by young people just the same as drugs that are illegal – more so even, in some cases.

“I don’t think the kids have any idea how addicting the substance is,” Karen Shays told the BBC in an interview. “Before they know it, bam! They’re addicted.”

Drugs like Xanax, Oxycodone, Klonopin and Hydrocodone are routinely being abused more and more in Kentucky in particular, but in other parts of the nation too, by teenagers and young adults. So bad is the problem that the state has set up rehabilitation centers, where a huge number of addicts – more all the time – are being treated.

So bad is the addiction that some kids have even turned to crime to feed it.

Some of the kids say they could have likely found other drugs to feed their habit, but prescription drugs were not only legal but much easier to get.

All in all, it’s sort of like Armageddon, but with prescription drugs – a sort of “Pharmageddon,” if you will, as evidenced by Kentucky’s overflowing jails, say state officials.

“A number of national studies and published reports indicate that the intentional abuse of prescription drugs, such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives, to get high is a growing concern — particularly among teens — in the United States. In fact, among young people ages 12-17, prescription drugs have become the second most abused illegal drug, behind marijuana,” said the study, called, “Teens and Prescription Drugs.”

“Though overall teen drug use is down nationwide and the percentage of teens abusing prescription drugs is still relatively low compared to marijuana use, there are troubling signs that teens view abusing prescription drugs as safer than illegal drugs and parents are unaware of the problem,” it said.