Opioid Abuse a Major Problem for Adolescent
> 11/2/2005 3:05:36 PM

In the current issue of Archives of General Psychiatry Dr. Charles O'Brien discusses the startling rise of opioid use in adolescents. He mentions two factors for this: the relatively recent availability of"a highly potent and cheaper heroin" and "a widespread recognition thatchronic pain has been generally undertreated," leading physicians toprescribe opioids more often. 
Opioids are out there, andoften times, when adolescents see adults taking these drugs, they aremistakenly led to believe that the behavior isn't as addictive ordangerous as it can be.  While the use of heroin by adolescentshas doubled over the last decade, a recent high school survey revealedthat 10.5% of 12th graders use codeine for recreational purposes.
Opioids are used in the treatment of chronic pain, but patients who usethem must realize that they are sending messages to children about theacceptability of using these drugs.  Opioids must be handled witha much greater degree of caution as they present a very real risk inthe hands of young people who are not ready to deal with theiraddictive qualities and negative side effects. Adults taking thesedrugs should monitor their pill count and keep their prescriptionshidden. They should also be open with their children about why thesedrugs have been prescribed and their dangers. What you say to yourchildren is more powerful than what one does.

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