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Group 401

Teen Opiate Use: A Growing Epidemic

Opiate abuse among today’s youth continues to grow with young adults and teens abusing prescription drugs more than any other illicit drug except for marijuana.

Consider these statistics:

  • One-third of teens believe there’s ‘nothing wrong’ with using prescription drugs every once in a while, and 4 out of 10 teens agree that prescription drugs are safer to use than illegal drugs, even if they’re not prescribed by a doctor. (*PATS, 2006)
  • The abuse of prescription painkillers by young adults rose more than 12 percent between 2002 and 2007. (**SAMHSA)
  • Nearly one in five teens report abusing prescription drugs not prescribed to them. (*PATS, 2006)
  • More than half of teens agree that prescription drugs are easier to get than illegal drugs. (*PATS, 2006)
  • Three out of 10 teens believe that prescription pain relievers are not addictive. (*PATS, 2006)
  • Almost 40 percent of teens don’t perceive any great risk in trying heroin once or twice. Almost 19 percent of teens don’t perceive any great risk in trying heroin once or twice a week. (**SAMHSA, 2006)

What can parents do?
Parents need to take an active role and be aware of the facts in order to protect and help their teens. The most popular drugs within the opiate category are prescription painkillers. According to a study by Columbia University their use has nearly tripled since 1992.

Young adults often perceive prescription drugs such as opiate pain relievers to be less dangerous than other illicit drugs because they are prescribed and readily available. Why?  Oftentimes they can find prescription pain medication right in their family medicine cabinet or obtain them easily through a friend or relative. They are lured into thinking they are a “safer” alternative since they are not purchasing illicit drugs.

Parents should be sure to keep these prescription pain medications out of sight, stored and locked in a safe place. Drugs included in the category and most commonly abused include Vicodin (hydrocodone), OxyContin (oxycodone), Darvon (propoxyphene), Dilaudid (hydromorphone), morphine, fentanyl, and codeine.

If a parent notices changes in their teen’s behavior it is important to seek help. Misusing or abusing these opiates can lead to addiction and overdose. Horizon Health Services currently treats young adult and teen addicts on an outpatient basis. Our highly trained counselors and child psychiatrist work with them and involve the entire family in the recovery process.

Adolescent Residential Treatment on the Horizon
It is Horizon’s goal to build a residential facility that can accommodate the special needs of young adult (ages 18 and over) addicts. This facility would complement the current residential treatment facility, Horizon Village, and be constructed on the same campus in Sanborn, New York. While Horizon is currently in the planning and fund-raising stages for this much-needed project, any parent who suspects their teen may be abusing drugs can call Horizon for help and guidance.

Call (716) 831-1800 and ask for Admissions.

*Partnership Attitude Tracking Study
**Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration