Do you want to hear the bad news or the worse news first? The bad news is teen prescription opioid use is still high, hitting at about 4.4 percent of high school seniors having abused prescription opioids in the past year.
The worse news is that short-term teen prescription opioid abuse has the ability to actually increase chronic pain. This helps explain why many people become addicted easily to prescription opioids.
How prescription opioids can lead to worse pain
In the recent 2016 study, the researchers found that opioids–used to relieve pain–ironically increased pain later in the lab rats. Overtime, teen prescription opioid abuse can make a teen more sensitive to pain. On top of that, people often end up taking higher doses of the opioid as they build a tolerance, making the situation even worse.
When opioids are introduced into your system to relieve pain, it leads to a large increase in the activity of pain-responsive nerve cells in the brain. In the study, they found that even after only 5 days of opioid use, chronic pain was triggered that could last for multiple months. This is what makes teen prescription opioid abuse turn into a full blown opioid addiction. When they run out of prescription opioids, it drives many to seek out other opioids–like heroin (which tends to be cheaper).
For teens who have undergone a surgery or have chronic pain and get prescribed opioids, this could mean a lot. It gives researchers a greater insight into what a potential cause of opioid addiction is and signals for pain relievers without such dire consequences.
Signs of teen prescription opioid abuse
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, there are many warning signs of teen prescription opioid abuse and other substance abuse to watch out for:
- Deterioration of physical appearance or personal grooming
- Suddenly impaired coordination, unexplained injuries
- Tremors, shakes, or slurred speech
- Changes in sleep or appetite
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Sudden drop in academic performance
- Becoming more withdrawn
- Frequent, unexplained mood changes
If you believe your child may be involved with teen prescription opioid abuse or have an addiction, it’s important to gain professional guidance. Addiction can ruin your child’s life, making it important to intervene and help as quickly as possible.
Trails Carolina can help
Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program for struggling teens, ages 11-17. Our students commonly deal with issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, trauma, and other behavioral or emotional challenges. We do not offer services for teens who are truly addicted to drugs such as opiates, however, we can help if you believe your child is going down the path towards drug addiction.
For more information about Trails Carolina, please call 800-975-7303 today!