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Teenage Opioid Abuse Rates on the Rise – Spotting Signs of Opioid Abuse in Your Teen

The wave of opioid abuse sweeping the United States today affects people from all walks of life, including teenagers. Consequently, rates of opioid abuse in teenagers have continued to rise with each passing year.

Considering the developmental stages that take place during the teenage years, the potential damage that opioid abuse brings can be considerably worse for a teenager, both now and in the future. Being able to spot signs of opioid abuse in your teen can go a long way towards helping him or her get much needed treatment help and avoid the never-ending pitfalls of substance abuse and addiction.

Teenage Opioid Abuse Rates

Teenage Opioid Abuse

Muddled thinking, memory problems, and fatigue are signs of opioid abuse.

As the most defining developmental stage in a person’s life, the teenage years can be difficult to say the least. Feelings of inadequacy, stress and peer pressure all make for perfect conditions for substance abuse behaviors to take shape.

Today’s teenagers live in a different world compared to days gone by, filled with distractions and pressures unlike any ever encountered by teenagers from past generations. Not surprisingly, many of today’s teens fall into opioid abuse practices. Opioids commonly used in this respect include:

  • OxyContin
  • Demerol
  • Fentanyl
  • Vicodin
  • Oxycodone

According to Michigan State University, an estimated 1 in 60 teens or young adults aged 12 to 21 engaged in opioid abuse behavior between the years 2004 and 2008. These rates increase to 1 in 30 or 40 around the age of 16, which constitutes the highest risk period during the teenage years.

Signs of Opioid Abuse

Most all opioid drugs have a slowing effect on the mind and body through their effects on the brain’s chemical activities. When ingested, these drugs interfere with the brain’s normal chemical pathways, which work to regulate all the body’s major systems, including:

  • Digestion and metabolism processes
  • Respiratory functions
  • Cardiovascular functions
  • Hormone production outputs
  • Body temperature regulation

Signs of opioid abuse develop within one or more of the above systems and increase in severity the longer a teen engages in opioid abuse practices. Signs to watch out for include:

  • Muddled thinking
  • Memory problems
  • Fatigue
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Sedation

Staging an Intervention for Opioid Addiction

Potential Risks

Over time, opioid abuse breeds physical dependency and eventual addiction as chemical imbalances start to take over within the brain’s chemical system. These developments can have a drastic impact on a teen’s physical, mental and emotional development and greatly limit his or her potential. These effects can ultimately change the course of a teen’s life.

Heroin abuse becomes yet another potential risk associated with abusing opioids. According to New York University, an estimated 25 percent of high school seniors who’ve abused opioids on 40 or more occasions have also experimented with heroin. While heroin may well be more potent than opioid drugs, it interacts with the brain and body in the same way. These similarities place teenagers at high risk of falling into heroin abuse practices.

Treatment Considerations

Spotting opioid abuse in your teen early on offers him or her the very best chance of overcoming the damaging effects of these drugs. When left untreated, opioid abuse can quickly turn into opioid addiction, especially when heroin enters the picture.

If you suspect your teen may be engaging in opioid abuse and have further questions about the effects of opioid abuse and addiction, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-466-0354 ( Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addictions counselors.

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