Teen Prescription Painkiller Addiction Epidemic

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Over the past few years, America has been in the grips of a prescription medication epidemic that has reached epic proportions. The following statistics supplied by the National Institute On Drug Abuse  (NIH) sheds light on the widespread use of prescription medications in our country:

  • The United States consumes 75% of the world supply of prescription medications, yet only comprises 5% of the world population.
  • 52 million people aged 12 and older have used prescription pills for non-medical purposes in their lifetime.
  • 6.1  million people abused prescription medications within the last month.

While there are many different types of prescription medications that users can misuse and become addicted to, prescription painkillers are the most abused and have dominated the headlines. Of the 8.76 million people who abused prescription medications in 2010, 5.1 million abusing prescription pain medicines such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Percodan and Tramadol. While these statistics are indeed startling, what is more startling is the fact that an increasing number of teenagers are turning to prescription painkillers to get their high.

If you are the parent of a teenager who is struggling with prescription painkiller abuse, help is available and recovery is possible! Call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center toll-free today and learn about our treatment programs for teens and young adults.

The Scope of the Teen Prescription Painkiller Epidemic in America

When we look at statistics regarding the use and abuse of prescription painkillers by teenagers in the United States, the numbers are eye-opening. According to The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 2,500 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 abuse prescription pain medicines for the first time. According to information provided by the 2014 Monitoring the Future Survey, nearly 5 percent of 12th graders have used Vicodin recreationally in the past year and just over 3 percent of 12th graders have used Oxycontin. Additionally, nearly one in five teenagers who have abused prescription pain medication first did so before the age of 14.

Prescription painkillers–as well as other medications– have become a popular drug of choice among teenagers for a number of reasons. According to information from the NIH article mentioned earlier, 62 percent of teens say they use prescription pain and other medicines because they are easy to access from their parent’s medicine cabinet. Nearly half of teens say they can obtain prescription medications from friends and these medications are available everywhere. Perhaps the most eye-opening statistic is that 51 percent of teens feel that prescription painkillers and other medications are “safer” than street drugs because they aren’t illegal.

Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Painkiller Abuse in Teens

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If you suspect that your teenage son or daughter is using prescription painkillers, there are telltale signs that you should watch for. The common signs that use is happening include the following:

  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation
  • Slow slurred speech
  • Impaired coordination
  • Dry skin, constant itching and skin infections
  • Constant flu-like symptoms
  • Track marks (if your teen in injecting these drugs intravenously)

In addition to the physical signs of abuse, there are also behavioral signs that are noticeable in those who abuse prescription painkillers. These can include:

  • Sudden mood changes, including irritability, negative attitude, personality change
  • Extreme changes in groups of friends or hangout locations
  • Forgetfulness or clumsiness
  • Lying or being deceitful, unaccounted time away from home/missed school days, avoiding eye contact
  • Losing interest in personal appearance, extracurricular activities or sports
  • Sudden changes in appetite
  •  Unusually poor performance in school, on the field, in debate club or other activities
  •  Borrowing money or having extra cash
  • Acting especially angry or abusive, or engaging in reckless behavior
  • Visiting pro-drug websites

Finding Help for Your Teen–Where To Begin?

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If you find out that your teenager is abusing prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, you are more than likely filled with shock, disbelief, anger and even denial. While these feelings are normal and completely understood given the gravity of the situation, it is important that you act quickly in finding professional help for your child. Choosing an appropriate drug treatment center will give your teen the tools and support they need in order to overcome their dependence or addiction to prescription painkillers and experience long-term recovery.

First and foremost, it is important that you find a drug rehab that specializes in working with teens and young adults and has programming and medical services that can attend to their specific and unique needs. You can start your search by speaking with your family doctor, hospital or other health care provider. In addition to finding a treatment center that specializes in teen addiction, there are also other specific features of treatment that will give your teenager the best chance of success.

The Important Components of Drug Treatment for Your Teen

When you are looking for drug treatment for your teenager, there are three important components that need to be present in order for treatment to be effective. These components are as follows:

Medical Detoxification

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Prescription painkillers have significant physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms once a person stops taking these drugs. Without the proper medical supervision, these withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and even life-threatening. During detox, your teen will undergo a gradual withdrawal in order to minimize these symptoms. Additionally, detox staff will conduct a full evaluation to diagnose any co-occurring disorders that could complicate the recovery process.

Drug Treatment

Intensive drug treatment will address the deeper psychological issues of addiction through the use of therapy and counseling. Not only will the underlying issues be addressed, your teen will learn the essential life and coping skills they need to successfully function in their day-to-day lives. Your teen will also take part in 12-step and other support groups and learn various relapse prevention techniques so they can better manage urges and cravings.


Once formal treatment ends, it is highly recommended that your teen attends aftercare programs that will provide continued support as they transition back into normal life. Examples of aftercare programming can include intensive outpatient programs, mentoring programs and other means of support.

Are you looking for quality drug treatment for your teen? Call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center today and talk to one of our representatives. We feature a variety of drug treatment programs that can be individually tailored to meet your son or daughter’s unique needs. Don’t wait another day, call us today and give your child the gift of sobriety.

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