What to Do When Your Teen is Addicted to Opiates | PBI
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What to Do When Your Teen is Addicted to Opiates

Over the past several years, there has been a significant increase in teenagers and young adults being admitted to drug treatment for opiate addiction.  Opiate drugs are powerful narcotics which include heroin, morphine and codeine and are derived from the opium poppy plant.  In addition to opiates, there are drugs called opioids which are considered “synthetic opiates” which are created in laboratories.  Examples of opioid drugs include Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin.  Both opiates and opioids are used to suppress one’s perception of pain and calm one’s emotional response to pain.

The increase in the use and abuse of opiate and opioid drugs among young people has been significant.  In a report issued by SAMHSA, visits to hospital emergency rooms involving non-medical use of prescription narcotic pain relievers had tripled in between 2004 and 2008 and has stayed steady.  While increased regulation and laws regarding the prescription and sale of prescription narcotics such as Oxycontin and Percocet and the resulting increase of price has helped stem the tide of abuse, teenagers and young adults are now turning to heroin.

In a report published by the NCADD, Prescription pain pills cost $20 to $60, while heroin costs $3 to $10 a bag. Many young people who use heroin start off snorting the drug, and within weeks, most start shooting up, according to the news report.  If you suspect that your child in abused opiate and opioid drugs, it is important to recognize the signs of use and find an appropriate rehabilitation center for treatment.


What Should You Do If You Teenager is Addicted to Opiates?

As parents you must be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of opiate use in an objective and matter of fact manner.  For many parents, they may engage in denial their child in addicted to drugs and may rationalize drug use as a phase.  If you engage in denial and rationalization your child’s drug use will not go away and will get worse and the consequences they may face down the road may be serious and even life-threatening.

The physical signs that your teenager may be using opiates may include the following:

  • Slurred or slowed speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Flushing of the face or neck
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Drooping eyelids

Other signs that your teenager is abusing opiates and opioids can include the following:

  • school work has declined and their grades are dropping
  • loss of interest in hobbies
  • loss of interest in the way they look and their overall appearance
  • secretive and guarded behavior
  • money and household items are missing

If you’ve noticed these symptoms in your teen, it’s important to have a frank and honest discussion about drug use. These discussions can be difficult to begin, but they are incredibly important for the teen’s overall health. In this talk, you should strive to be specific, pointing out the signs of drug use that you have noticed and explaining why these symptoms are cause for concern.  While it may be difficult, it is important to show concern and support.   In addition, parents should remind the teen that addiction is curable, and that the parents are willing to help the teen get better.

It is important to find a rehabilitation or drug treatment center which specializes in opiate abuse among teenagers.  Contact your local health provider, hospital, or addiction specialist for their recommendations.

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