According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, there were more than 20.5 million people over the age of 12 with a substance abuse disorder in the United States. Their research shows that roughly 2.6 million of these Americans suffer from addiction related to opioids – in the form of prescription pain medications and heroin. Opioid abuse has been found increasingly in teens and adults in recent years, becoming a significant cause for concern in the United States. Research has shown that many of these opioid abusers started with prescribed opioids, estimating that 21 to 29 percent of people misuse their opioid prescription.

In addition to the growing number of teens and adults struggling with opioid addiction, the number of deaths related to addiction has been increasing among teens for the last several years. Reports show teen death from overdose has increased 15 percent in males and 35 percent in females in the 15-19 year age range. This terrifying trend highlights the significance of battling teen opioid addiction and the importance of getting American teens the help they need to overcome addiction from opioids.

Symptoms of Teen Opioid Addiction

With the increased presence of opioid addiction in American youth, more has been learned about what this problem looks like in teenagers. Certain symptoms and signs indicate opioid addiction might be present. The physical symptoms, changes in mood or personality, and certain behaviors surround medication handling can indicate a teen opioid problem. Being familiar with these symptoms and signs can help you recognize opioid abuse in a teen or child you know so that they can get the help they need. Some physical symptoms you may observe if a teen you know is struggling with opioid abuse include:

  • Unexplained euphoria, appearing high, or seeming sedated
  • Drowsiness and sleep changes
  • Confusion and issues with problem-solving and decision-making
  • Lack of coordination
  • Mood swings or hostility

Additionally, you may observe your teen changing their behaviors around prescription pain medication. Check for certain warning signs and behaviors, including:

Opioid Addiction Effects in Teens

  • Taking larger or more frequent doses of medication
  • Losing their medication frequently
  • Complaining of excessive pain when medication is not available
  • Carrying medication outside of its prescription bottle
  • Stealing or selling medication

teen opioid addiction treatmentOpioid addiction can affect the brain and body in many ways. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid abuse has been shown to disrupt neurotransmitters, delay brain response, and impact the brain’s ability to function. It can also have a lasting effect on the body, hindering pain signals, causing problems with pain management, slowing the bowels, and more. Opioid abuse causes changes in the brain and body that contribute to chronic use, intense cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and compulsive use along with other abnormalities that may take longer to recover from. These changes are troublesome for adults but can be especially problematic for teens who have not had the opportunity to develop coping mechanisms and other strategies for living without the drug.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction in Teens

One of the key initiatives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in fighting the growing opioid crisis in America has been to focus on improving availability and access to therapy, treatment, and recovery services. This shows just how vital inpatient therapy is in overcoming opioid addiction. Studies have shown that opioid abuse treatment requires a two-pronged approach to address both the physical and psychological changes caused by the drug. Physical therapies focus on the treating the addiction and accompanying withdrawal symptoms while psychological treatments aid in overcoming brain changes and provide coping skills to help prevent relapse. This process helps teens overcome their addiction and mentally prepare for recovery.

As opioid addiction continues to grow in America, greater numbers of teens are abusing and overdosing on these dangerous drugs. Opioid abuse can affect a teens brain in many ways, increasing their reliance on the drug and making it more and more difficult to quit. Seeking inpatient therapy designed for teens, like the treatments offered at Centered Health, give them the best chance at recovery from opioid addiction. Focusing on curing the physical addiction and addressing while addressing psychological concerns and developing coping mechanisms help teens move forward in recovery and reclaim their lives free from opioid addiction.