While we understand that abuse of painkiller medications is a problem in this country for adults, we also need to consider how this issue is be affecting our young people. In a study by the American Psychological Association, it was shown that adolescent children have a greater risk of developing issues with painkiller medications if they have experienced physical or sexual abuse, witnessed abuse in the home, or if another family member has an addiction problem.

Besides marijuana, prescription medications are the number one drug of choice for teenagers in the United States.

These drugs, which are often prescribed to patients with chronic pain conditions, help alleviate pain by blocking receptors in the brain. However, they also stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain producing a high. Many of these medications are opiates that are either derived from natural compounds or manufactured to create the same effects. These include popular prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

These drugs mask the pain for many patients but as their body adjusts to the presence of these drugs they build up a tolerance and crave more to ease the pain. This creates the dependent and addictive reactions to these drugs.

There is some concern within the medical community that prescription painkillers are being overprescribed. This not only leads to the abuse of prescription painkillers for the patient, but also puts their family at risk. A family member’s prescription medication may be too large a temptation for teenagers who can easily take them from the family medicine cabinet. A recent study shows that while marijuana was at one time the leading gateway drug, over-the-counter and prescription painkillers have now taken their place.

The Drug Enforcement Administration published this 31 page booklet, which was revised in 2012, regarding teen abuse of prescription painkillers and other drugs. This can be an excellent resource for parents who are concerned about this in their lives.

Are you concerned about the adolescent abuse of painkiller medications in your home or community?

Image by Hash Milhan via Flickr

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