Gone are the days when a parent’s only worry concerning drugs was to keep their children away from dealers on the street or in their school. Now parents need to be vigilant about protecting their children from medicine cabinets in their own home or their local pharmacies.
In the past few years, there has been an astonishing rise in teen opiate painkiller abuse. In fact, the Monitoring the Future (MTF) Survey discovered 10 percent of graduating seniors reported experimenting with Vicodin, while nearly five percent abused OxyContin during their high school career. Opiate painkillers that are generally abused include:
While over-the-counter drugs that are at risk for abuse can be controlled to a certain extent by legislation restrictions, what happens to opiate painkillers once they are placed in the medicine cabinet is much more difficult to monitor. The best hope for reversing the trend in teen opiate painkiller abuse is through educating both parents and their children on prevention.
What Leads Teens to Addiction
The teenage years are considered the most confusing phase of life by many due to the rapid changes and new influx of hormones in both the mind and body. As teens struggle to cope with their maturing bodies and interpersonal relationships, they tend to experience a lot of psychological, social and physical stresses. Unfortunately for an increasing number of teens, they are learning to manage these stresses by experimenting with opiate painkillers that have a high risk of creating an addiction. A combination of any or all of the factors below can lead to teens experimenting with the effects of opiate painkillers:
- Peer Pressure. This can be internal pressure to fit in with friends who are abusing drugs or an external pressure from friends who are actually coaxing a teen to try prescription drugs.
- Academic or Athletic Stress. Teens can also feel a ton of stress to perform both academically and in their extracurricular activities in an increasingly competitive environment to make it into a great college or university. In order to relieve this stress from time to time, they may turn to the calming effects of opiate painkillers.
- Mental Disorders. Issues such as anxiety or depression that are undiagnosed or not properly treated may cause a teen to self-medicate.
- Desire for Independence. Many teens want to assert their independence for the first time. Making their own choices separate from their mom or dad is part of fulfilling this desire. Choosing to experiment with drugs without their parents’ knowledge may be one unhealthy way to satisfy this need.
- Minimal Legal Risk. Unlike being caught buying or possessing illegal narcotics, the legal ramifications of having prescription drugs is not as risky.
- Illusion of Safety. The perception of prescription opiate painkillers is that they are safe because the medical community uses them. They are considered by users to be safer than street drugs because their production is regulated, so there are fewer concerns about the drug being laced with another substance.
When teens start experimenting with opiate painkillers for any of the above reasons, they are at a high risk of developing an addiction before they realize what is happening. Signs your teen is headed down the road toward a devastating opiate painkiller addiction may be subtle at first, but as the need grows, more signs will become apparent that there is a problem. If you have concerns about your teen, here are some signs that may alert you that your teen needs opiate rehab:
- Extreme mood swings
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Sudden change in performance at school or extracurricular activities
- Frequently finding pills missing from an opiate painkiller prescription
- Taking painkillers in doses higher than prescribed
- “Doctor shopping” – seeing multiple doctors to rotate prescriptions
- Claiming repeatedly to lose their prescription so they need to get another one
- Constantly in need of money – buying painkillers on the street can be extremely expensive
- If caught stealing, it could be to feed their drug habit
A professional experienced teen rehab is your greatest hope for a lasting recovery from opiate painkiller addiction. If you are worried abut your teen and suspect an addiction to prescription meds then contact us immediately. We have trained professionals standing by to answer all your questions regarding teen rehab and to connect you to some of the most successful rehab programs around the country. Pick up the phone and put an end to this destructive cycle in your teen’s life today.