Trends in Adolescent Abuse of Pain Medication

Teen Opioids - Freedom From Addiction

A recent report entitled, "Non-prescribed use of pain relievers among adolescents in the United States," closely examined adolescent abuse of non-prescribed pain relievers, such as opioids. The results are worth noting. Using data collected from American households as part of a US National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the report authors were able to determine that about 10% of all adolescents aged 12 to 17 admit using non-prescribed pain relievers within their lifetime. Hydrocodone products were used by more than half of those young people, including the following medications:

  • Vicodin
  • Lortab
  • Lorcet
  • Lorcet Plus
  • Hydrocodone

Half had used propoxyphene, as presented in medications such as Darvocet, Darvon or codeine, including Tylenol with codeine. About one quarter of those surveyed used oxycodone, as available in the following:

  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Percodan
  • Tylox

Recent Trends in Adolescent Abuse of Opioids

More American youth are using opioids than ever before. This includes a higher rate of hospitalizations from abuse of these medications, as well as increased mortality. All of these statistics are related to non-prescribed use of medications taken specifically for a drug-induced high. Both the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) and the US Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) indicate increased hospital emergency department admissions due to adolescent abuse of opioids. There is also an increase in admissions of these youth to government and community-funded substance abuse treatment facilities. Unfortunately, such increases in emergency room visits are significant. These are drastic, even haunting figures:

  • 642% more fentanyl admissions
  • 347% higher oxycodone entries
  • 342% more hydromorphone visits

The same is true for deaths due to adolescent abuse of painkillers. In 2002, more youth died from opioid overdose than heroin or cocaine. More than one third of people starting to use non-prescribed opioids for recreational purposes each year are between the ages of 12 and 17. Females are more than twice as likely to abuse opioids as their male counterparts. Among females, 22% have used non-prescribed painkillers. Only 10% of males have used opioids. Of all users, one fifth report using at least once weekly.

Treatment for Adolescent Abuse of Opioids

With so many American teens abusing non-prescribed painkillers, most youth in this country are exposed to these drugs and likely know of someone using them. Ready access is a major problem. Another problem is how quickly these medications can take over and even destroy a young life. Despite the chokehold of opioids on a teen using them, freedom from addiction is possible through a quality treatment facility. When a teen's problem with painkiller abuse is identified, getting help is critical to ensure a safe pathway into adulthood. Freedom From Addiction can help you find addiction treatment. Call us.

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