American youth gripped by chronic opioid abuse problem

American youth gripped by chronic opioid abuse problem

American youth gripped by chronic opioid abuse problem

The teenage years are a time of rapid physical and mental growth and change. However, many teenagers cannot take these changes in their stride and indulge in risky behavior, such as substance abuse, which could hamper their brain development. Alarmingly, nearly 50 percent of high school children are gripped by addictive substances.

While the primary reasons for developing an opioid addiction can be attributed to the social and environmental conditioning of a teen, neurological processing also plays a significant role in increasing the chances of addiction in some individuals. In fact, addictive behaviors are fueled by the way the brain processes rewards.

It has been observed that the teens’ brains are designed for risk-taking and indulging in dangerous activities like drug use, binge drinking, rash driving and risky sexual behavior. Sadly, many adolescents continue to engage in dangerous activities despite knowing about their long-term negative repercussions. This is because their brain prioritizes rewards over risks.

Dramatic rise in teen opioid dependency

Teen opioid dependency has shown a dramatic rise over the past several years. Much of this can be attributed to the increasing ease with which prescription drugs and painkillers are available in the market. Studies have shown that families using prescription pills for various purposes are more likely to have an opioid overdose incident, than the families that stay away from the unnecessary use of such medications.

Prescription pills form a major bulk of prescription drugs given post an accident, surgery or injury. The commonly prescribed opioid pills, include OxyContin, Percocet, or Vicodin, among others, which can be easily accessed by youngsters at home or elsewhere and can be misused to get the desired “high.” It has been observed that risk-taking behavior and impulsivity in teens can be the root cause of their affinity toward addictive substances.

Dr. John F. Kelly, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry in addiction medicine, at Harvard Medical School, and founder and director of the Recovery Research Institute, said, “Aside from killing the pain, most people won’t find prescription opioids very rewarding or stimulating. But about one in seven will experience a sense of euphoria that leads them to repeat their exposure to the drug, which can rapidly lead to a cycle of dependence. Genetics play a role in how susceptible you are.”

Identifying signs of opioid abuse in adolescents

An early sign of opioid abuse can be observed if the medication is taken more than recommended or more often than it is advised. Other signs of prescription medication abuse can be noticed if an individual on the drug feels shaky or unusual and displays odd behaviors, which may be an indicator that the drug is affecting his or her ability to function normally.

Teens who are addicted to opioids can build up a higher tolerance level, which means that the effect of that same dose has begun to decrease. In case of prescription drugs, some patients may be tempted to take higher doses, looking for the same effect. The habit to self-medicate by ingesting high doses leads to addiction, which can eventually lead to psychological and physical dependence.

Some of the short- and long-term effects of opioids are:

  • Nausea and stomach pain
  • Weakness, sweating, headaches and dizziness
  • Restlessness and cold flashes
  • Depression
  • Brain damage
  • Tolerance and addiction

Road to recovery

If you know someone who is addicted to opioids, help is at hand. This is a difficult battle to fight alone and it is advisable that you seek professional help. Addiction can invoke feelings of shame and dejection, and if left untreated, can even lead to death.

Contact the Prescription Drug Addiction Help to get more information on the best prescription drug abuse treatment centers that specialize in evidence-based intervention plans. Call us at our helpline number 866-623-3847 or chat online to know more about prescription drug abuse treatment centers in the U.S.