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Prescription drug abuse rates are rapidly increasing in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it is responsible for the consumption of 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. Abuse of prescription drugs occurs who the drug is taken in a manner other than its intended purpose such as to get high.

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05-11 Doctors’ offices feeding opioid addiction among teens, suggests study

Posted in Opioid addiction, Prescription drug abuse by Rachael - 0 Comments
Doctors’ offices feeding opioid addiction among teens, suggests study

A team of researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, has found a high correlation between nonmedical use of prescription opioids (NUPO) among teenagers, especially males, and their previous use for medical reasons. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics in March 2017, suggests that teens who abuse prescription opioids were first given the drugs by a doctor.

The researchers studied the use of prescription opioids among American teenagers between 1976 and 2015 by analyzing data from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study of high school seniors and young adults in the United States. It was found that among adolescents who used prescription opioids for medical and nonmedical reasons, there was a very high likelihood of medical use before the adolescents started using the drugs for non-medical purposes.

Leftover painkillers are most widely abused by teenagers

Adults have been the focus of majority studies analyzing nationwide trends in medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids in the United States. Moreover, these studies have not been based on national-level samples but on disparate data sources. Past research has also analyzed differences related to ethnicity and gender in medical use of prescription opioids. Findings from such studies show that typically, women and white teenagers had a higher likelihood of being prescribed opioid painkillers than men and African-American teenagers, respectively. However, such studies are frequently limited by a restricted regional focus at any given point in time.

As per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the U.S. is the largest consumer of prescription opioids worldwide, accounting for nearly 100 percent of the global supply of hydrocodone, and 81 percent of the global supply of oxycodone. Prescriptions written for opioids skyrocketed to 207 million in 2013, compared to 76 million prescriptions in 1991. Findings from the new study show that the rate of medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids among teens has declined during the period 2013 and 2015. Sean Esteban McCabe, research professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study, writes that the decline may result from greater caution in prescribing painkillers.

The researchers also found that:

  • One-third of adolescents who consumed opioids for nonmedical purposes used leftover opioid painkillers which had been previously prescribed to them.
  • Gender played a negligible role in the nonmedical use of prescription opioids, whereas opioids prescribed medically were more widely used by female teenagers.
  • The correlation of medical use of prescription opioids with NUPO was much higher for male adolescents than females.
  • A higher prevalence of medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids was observed in white teenagers as compared to black teenagers.

Painkillers need to be prescribed with caution and supplemented with other interventions

Teenagers may need to undergo several medical procedures for which opioid painkillers are prescribed to manage pain. However, doctors can exercise caution regarding the quantity of drugs prescribed and also restrict repeat doses. Clinical practices should also take into account socio-demographic differences and risky usage patterns in the prescription of painkillers to limit the adversarial impact associated with their use among teenagers. Parents, on the other hand, can ensure that leftover painkillers are thrown away.

Interventions such as better patient and family awareness at the time of drug prescriptions can also help in controlling the problem. Other preventive measures include improved drug regulations, development of new approaches to pain management which are affordable and have a lower possibility for misuse, and inexpensive treatment programs accessible by all. The study suggests that opioids should be prescribed only when they are absolutely warranted when no alternative options are available.

Seek treatment at the earliest

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to prescription opioids, seek help immediately. Contact the Colorado Prescription Abuse Helpline for information on the finest prescription drug abuse treatment centers in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-922-5915 or chat online with our representatives to know more about prescription drug abuse rehab in Colorado offering various therapies for holistic recovery.