Signs Your Teen Is Using Opioids

How to Know If Your  Teen Is Using Opioids

Opioid abuse in the US is growing and becoming an epidemic. But for teens the risk remains much higher. According to a report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), seven out of ten teens who abuse prescription opiates will mix them with other drugs and alcohol. The danger comes due to each substance enhancing the effect of the other and superseding the liver’s ability to manage the process of detoxification.

But the message to your teen when discussing this risk should not be that they shouldn’t be mixing opiates and other substances. It is that they should not be abusing prescription medication, at all. One sad reality of prescription drug abuse is that 60-70% of teens who abuse these drugs are getting them from their own parent’s medicine cabinets. However, this does mean that you can make a huge difference in your teens access to prescription drugs at home.

In a time where teen suicide is on the rise and depression in those under 18 seems to be more prevalent than ever, it is crucial that the warning signs of drug abuse be recognized.

Signs Your Teen Is Using Opioids

There are a number of drugs out there that parents are concerned about. Prescription medications are only just starting to really hit the spotlight thanks to the increase in awareness. Sadly that awareness has come on the heels of a wash of overdoses related to pills like hydrocodone and oxycontin.

Your teen could be falling prey to these dangerous and highly addictive substances. The signs are a little harder to spot than some of the other drugs on the market. But you can keep an eye out for the following symptoms of opioid abuse:

  • Signs of euphoria or intoxication.
  • Drowsiness or “nodding off”.
  • Small pupils.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Slowed speech.
  • Confusion.
  • Isolation and secretiveness.
  • Constipation.

In addition, you can search for signs of withdrawl, which include:

  • Mood swings, particularly when not seemingly sedated.
  • Irritability or sudden bouts of anger.
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Headaches or pain in the eyes.
  • Complaints of constant joint or muscle pains.
  • Depression.
  • Sleep disruptions, particularly sudden insomnia.
  • Sweating or hot flashes.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Teen Is Abusing Opioids

If you suspect your teen is using opioids, or if you have confirmation, you may be at a loss about what to do. There are a few steps you can take to address this very serious problem.

  1. Understand Your Child May Have an Addiction – First of all, you need to approach this situation with understanding. Due to the nature of these medications, it is very likely that your teen is at least physically dependent on opioids if they have been taking them for any regular amount of time. Worst case scenario, they are dealing with a full blown addiction.
  2. Remain Calm, But Firm – You have to be prepared to hear things that you won’t like. Reacting out of anger is natural, but not productive. Be calm when asking them about their potential drug use and what they are going through. Yet be firm about the need for honesty and the consequences of what has happened.
  3. Get Professional Help – Finally, seek professional help. Once you know for sure that your teen is abusing drugs it is time to find someone who can help them. Get your teen into a therapist, stat.

Resource List:

  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/teens-mix-prescription-opioids-other-substances
  2. http://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/mixing-opiates/
  3. http://www.sundancecanyonacademy.com/teen-prescription-drug-use-problems-infographic/

 

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Tyler Jacobson

As a father of three, Tyler Jacobson lends his parenting experiences for the learning benefit of parents everywhere. For years he has researched and writes for Liahona Academy and other organizations that help troubled boys, focusing on topics surrounding social media use, teenage education, serious addiction issues, mental and behavioral disorders, and abnormal teenage stress. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn
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