There are many physicians in the United States who refuse to prescribe opioids like Vicodin to teenagers due to the highly addictive nature of the drug.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 11 million Americans use prescription drugs for non-medical reasons each year.
As a result, physicians are careful to ensure that teens don’t become a part of these statistics, providing instead less addictive alternatives for teens who require pain control.
While Vicodin may not be commonly prescribed to teens, teenagers who want the drug are resourceful enough to get their hands on it. Unfortunately, teens are at an even greater risk for health complications with the non-medical use of Vicodin, due in part to the fact that they often combine the drug with alcohol. The combination causes exponentially worse damage to the liver than either substance alone – in fact, more than 50,000 emergency room visits per year result from Vicodin use.
Where Are They Getting It?
Many American physicians refuse to prescribe Vicodin to teens for a number of different reasons that stem from the fear of drug abuse. Doctors believe that even when the drug is legitimately required, teens may share it with friends or sell if for money rather than taking it as prescribed. Teens may also choose to experiment with drug abuse, increasing their dosage just for the experience. When teens are not aware of the potential consequences that these actions can have upon their health, they’re putting themselves at risk.
Complications of inappropriate Vicodin use include:
- Liver damage due to high levels of acetaminophen
- Hearing loss
- Short-term effects like nausea, vomiting, dizziness and constipation
Of course, in addition to the health risks that Vicodin abuse can pose to teens, their addictions may also put their life accomplishments on hold if their dependency becomes the top priority.
Despite these risks, teens do still manage to obtain Vicodin, and some do so in the following ways:
- Visiting more than one doctor and mentioning that they have an existing prescription that they cannot access or claim for a specific reason
- Purchasing them from other teens at a high cost per pill
- Taking them from parents or friends’ parents without their knowledge, which is one of the more common ways teens obtain Vicodin
Since Vicodin is fairly easily accessible, there are options for teens who want to use the drug recreationally.
Preventing Adolescent Abuse
Teen Vicodin Addiction can be prevented. In most cases, physicians are already being diligent in refusing to prescribe Vicodin to many teens. Parents with a Vicodin prescription can follow suit by keeping their medication away from their children and monitoring the quantity of pills that they have on hand to ensure that they are the only ones using.
With a better understanding of the risks of teen Vicodin use, young adults may choose to make better decisions to avoid the consequences.
Why do Teens Use Vicodin?
Teenagers, like adults, develop an addiction to Vicodin because of its opiate nature. In the beginning, they use the drug to achieve a euphoric state provided by the opiates within. But soon, individuals develop a tolerance to the drug, so that it takes more and more to “get high”. At this point, the teen has developed a Vicodin addiction – and is more concerned with avoiding the bad feelings that occur when they don’t take the drug, than achieving any good feelings once experienced when taking it.
Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Teen Vicodin Addiction
Because most teens will not come out and readily admit that they have a Vicodin addiction, it is important for parents to know the warning signs. The most classic signs and symptoms of teen Vicodin addiction include:
- Common complaints of feeling physically ill (occurs when the individual is not taking Vicodin).
- Stealing money from family and friends (to support a Vicodin habit)
- Seeing different doctors for unexplained conditions (in an effort to obtain more of the drug via “doctor shopping”)
- Moodiness and/or severe mood swings
- Stealing medication from the home or the medicine cabinets of family members
Fighting Back Against Teen Vicodin Abuse
Parents who suspect that their child make have a Vicodin addiction need to use every means at their disposal to fight back and help their child break this dangerous cycle. First, there is communication. Talk to your kids about drugs and the dangers of Vicodin. Many will mistakenly believe that because Vicodin is prescribed by a doctor that it is safer than heroin or other “street drugs.” It is up to you to show them you care by giving them the facts without personal judgments. If that fails to generate results, it may be time to call for a drug intervention. A professional interventionist can help organize this meeting, where friends and family gather together to express their concern about the addicted teen, get them to admit that they have a Vicodin addiction problem – and get them into a teen drug rehab program immediately.
Treatment for Teens
Since young adults cannot typically cover the costs independently, they can ask for assistance from their parents or look for drug rehab programs that offer subsidized or free spots in treatment for teens. Because teens have their whole lives ahead of them, there are programs in place to ensure that the costs of rehab do not hold them back from getting the help that they need.
As it stands, only 10% of Americans with an addiction seek help and teens do not need to become a part of those statistics when there are options available to ensure that they have the opportunity to recover.