Pain medicine abuse is a really big problem. This is something that worries me more and more every day in fact. Rates of prescription drug abuse and it’s related problem, heroin abuse, are going up in teens. And in every type of hometown. Everywhere I look, I see more and more about this problem! I keep all the questions I receive from teens like you and slowly work my way through them. But I just finished reading a book by Jennifer Wiener All Fall Down, about addiction, and that book spurred me onto writing about narcotics or opioid addiction for you today. Now, the main character is not a teen, but it paints a really good picture of how someone can slide into addiction. The book was such a powerful and honest portrayal of how people can develop addiction for a bunch of reasons. And of how addiction can affect all sorts of people, including “nice people” to quote her, that look just like you.
Speaking of “just like you”, did you know that for teens, opioids are one of the more commonly abused drugs, after alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana???
Now, it is really important to have effective pain medications for medical conditions that require relief. But the problem is that more and more young people seem to be trying these sorts of pills to get high. Sometimes teens crush them and snort or smoke them, sometimes teens just swallow them.
The deadly effects (like making you stop breathing) are increased when they are taken with alcohol.
Over the past 10 years, the rate of deaths because of heroin overdose in teens has gone up 4 times.
So, what happens stop taking them and you have been using for a while? There are definite withdrawal symptoms that make quitting that much harder – symptoms include feeling really edgy, twitching and jerking, having diarrhea and vomiting, having goosebumps all over and feeling chills. But you can get through this stage and get on with recovery. Which gets me to the next topic – treatment.
What about treatment for addiction? YES! There is treatment available – it is important to ask for help to access treatment. Usually you are detoxed, and then you may be put on another medicine that blocks the “feeling high” part of the opioid, but helps to wean you off opioids without so many awful symptoms that drive you right back to using again.
I don’t want to go on and on and lose you – so I’ll stop here. But there is a lot of great information I recommend you take a look at – here is one resource that covers all sorts of drug questions: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/opioids-and-pain-relievers
Do you think you or a friend or family member might have a problem? This will help you figure out what to do: Have a Drug Problem?