Rising trend of opioid addiction in teens

Rising trend of opioid addiction in teens

Bob (name changed) was a star jock, known for his aggressiveness and commitment, until that fateful day when his life came crashing down. A hamstring injury caused due to a collision with a fellow athlete in the field brought him back to the benches.

For a couple of days, he remained confined to his room, giving up his hobbies and interests. Missing his days of pride and glory, and desiring to practice again in spite of the nagging pain, Bob started consuming prescription pills unscrupulously. Just like many others who walked the same path, he too was hooked to those pills. As time passed, he felt the need to increase his dosage to get the desired high. What started as a cure for pain soon turned into a horror story for Bob who looked for an easy fixture for pain.

Dealing with teen addiction

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in 2015, 276,000 adolescents used pain relievers for nonmedical purposes. Of these, 122,000 had developed an addiction to opioid drugs.  Opioids are painkillers available either in the form of pure opiate or as semi-synthetic chemicals. The most commonly used opioids are oxycodone, methadone, Tylenol with codeine.

Drug abuse is rampant among teens for a variety of reasons. From finding social acceptance to treat a painful condition, adolescents can go to any extent to get access to their drug of choice. Sadly, teens are at a much greater risk of an overdose due to their tendency to combine opioid medications with alcohol and other drugs.

Drug and opioid abuse during teen years can have far-reaching consequences. Drug addiction has a significant negative impact on the developing brain of teens, disrupting the gray matter that is essential for cognitive processing.

Listed below are some of the characteristic signs of opioid abuse in teens:

  • Vomiting
  • No sensation of pain
  • Slurred speech
  • Constricted pupils
  • Lack of interest in studies or hobbies
  • Light breathing
  • Profuse sweating

In case, a teenager has been abusing opioids for a prolonged period, the symptoms could be much more serious, including:

  • Cold flashes
  • Mood swings
  • Brain alterations
  • Addiction issues
  • Constant pain
  • Relapse

Teenagers dealing with the problem of drug addiction need a treatment plan that is calibrated according to their specific needs. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that 90 percent of the youth were not getting the required treatment for their addiction to prescription drugs.

Only a few evidence-based treatment programs cater to the ever-growing problem of addiction in children, with most of them often being underutilized. It is important to understand that teenagers have their unique needs and an adult program will have limited efficacy for dealing with the issues of teen drug addiction.

Seeking professional help

An integrated and customized psychological and behavioral treatment program that puts emphasis on a teen’s specific needs can help in making him or her sober. It is important for a treatment program to make a teen realize his or her self-worth and learn important life-skills to grow into a fine individual. Several psychotherapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and motivational interviewing (MI) etc. also goes a long way in helping distressed teens set up their future goals.

As teens are generally wary of commitment, the idea of a rehab or detox is not appealing to them. Therefore, it is essential that they are made aware of the pitfalls of self-detox and made to understand that only a therapist who has the knowledge of how to tackle the dysfunctional neural pathways responsible for drug addiction can aid in a complete detox. Self-remediation in drug abuse will invariably lead to a relapse.

If you or your loved one is hooked on opioids and is looking for help, get in touch with the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline of California for information on various prescription drug rehabs in California. One should not delay for the treatment or the situation might worsen. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-738-2770 or chat online for expert advice on available prescription drug addiction treatment in California.