Get to Know the Meds in Your Home that Are Getting Your Teens Hooked

Get to Know the Meds in Your Home that Are Getting Your Teens Hooked

People, including teens, might decide to take a medication that wasn’t prescribed to them. They sometimes use the drug to self-medicate and eventually use it to avoid withdrawal and to get high. It’s illegal for someone to take prescription medications, also called controlled substances, if they have not been prescribed to the person. While some teens get caught up with the use of depressants or stimulants, opioids, commonly used as pain medication, are the most commonly abused prescription drug by teens.

According to a 2005 report released by NPR, about 5 percent of 12th graders admit to taking OxyContin, an opiate derivative and painkiller with a strong likelihood of addiction. From 2002 to 2005, the number of high school seniors who admitted to using the drug rose nearly 40 percent. While the medication effectively treats pain when used as directed, it affects a person much differently if he or she is not in pain, seriously increasing the risk of addiction.

According to the Center for Disease Control, by 2014, that figure grew to 25 percent of kids as young as 12 who had experimented with prescription drugs. Even more alarming is the fact that teens aren’t just buying the drug from a supplier in a rough part of town. Instead, they are obtaining access to the drug from a source much closer to home — literally. All they need to do is walk to their parent’s medicine cabinet where they will likely find an accessible supply of the drug and other similar addictive prescriptions. In fact, one of the reasons that teens struggle so much with the drug is because they think it’s safe since it’s a prescription.

One Teen’s Experience

In some cases, teens crush up the pills, snorting them to experience a high. One teen, who since went through a drug-treatment program, stated that the drug relaxed him and was easy to obtain. He knew at least 10 classmates selling it. However, just days after he started using it, he tried to stop. He began feeling sick if he didn’t keep using. When he tried to stop again, he realized the severity of the addiction as he went from dripping sweat to freezing cold to throwing up. In order to feed his growing addiction, he cashed in savings bonds and sold electronics and everything he had. He finally went to his parents and confessed that he needed help. His experience was common as he reported that kids across all groups — from jocks to nerds to misfits and more — were using.

Accidental Addicts

As in the above case, the addiction for many is accidental. However, once the teen experiences the numbing effect of the painkiller after surgery for the removal of wisdom teeth, a sports injury or other incident, they don’t — or can’t — stop using.

Another related dynamic involves the problem of injuries for high school athletes. Thinking they are helping, parents want their teen to take powerful medications, such as OxyContin. However, they might not realize the addictive qualities of the drug, resulting in serious issues for their child. One mother shared her family tragedy. After her son fractured his collar bone, he took OxyContin and become addicted almost immediately. He graduated to heroin, which eventually claimed his life at the age of 26.

When sold on the street, the pills are expensive. Some users switch to heroin, which costs just a fraction of OxyContin.

Parental Cautions for Opioid Use

Some experts believe that teen brains process the drug differently and are not mature enough to implement effective decision-making skills. If a child definitely needs pain medication, parents can combat this issue by dealing asking a doctor for the lowest possible dosage and as few pills as possible, seeking a refill if necessary. Parents should also count the pills to ensure that the prescription is taken appropriately.

Check with your doctor to see if an over-the-counter pain medication might work just as well for your child. Be sure to address the issue of prescription drug addiction as well. While many parents address marijuana usage with kids, they fail to discuss prescription drugs.

In addition to OxyContin, painkillers fall under some of the following generic and brand names:

  • Codeine,
  • Fentanyl,
  • Hydrocodone/Diyrdrocodeinone/Vicodin,
  • Hydromorphone/Dialudid,
  • Meperidine/Demerol,
  • Methadone and
  • Morphine,

Additional Statistics about Opioid Use

Accidental drug overdose is the leading cause of death in the nation, with numbers steadily on the rise. In 2014, opioid overdoses claimed the lives of nearly 20,000 people, which equates to about 40 deaths per day. Furthermore, about 11,000 people died from heroin overdoses. The majority of these were male.

Possible Signs of Painkiller Abuse/Addiction

Look for the following signs:

  • Tiny eye pupils
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Different friends
  • Drop in grades
  • Changes in personality
  • Differences in personal hygiene
  • Apathy, decreased energy level and
  • Increased sleep patterns.

Helping Your Teen Stay Drug Free

  • Keep the lines of communication open. If your teen feels comfortable talking to you, he might be less likely to use drugs. Recognize that he might want to keep some matters private, but make sure that he knows that you are available any time that he wants to talk.
  • Know your son’s friends. Invite them over to your house, connect with their parents and know their interests.
  • Keep him busy and involved with various, proactive activities, such as music, sports, clubs or other activities.

Seeking Help for a Painkiller Addiction

If you suspect that your teen is using drugs, seek professional medical help as soon as possible. You can ask your general practitioner, pediatrician or a specialist if he or she can screen for drug use. A screening generally includes questions regarding substance use/abuse and related behaviors. The doctor might also take a blood or urine test.

Addiction specialists, listed in the American Society of Addiction Medicine, provide specific counsel and will help you determine if you need to send your teen to in-patient treatment. Your provider can refer you to an appropriate treatment program.

In some cases, family pressure might not motivate your child to enter treatment. While interventions, such as those made popular by some television shows, might backfire in the case of teens, the juvenile justice system often mandates treatment programs, which often effectively address addiction.

Service Ideas To Help Your Teen Focus On Others Needs

Service Ideas To Help Your Teen Focus On Others Needs

The adolescent years can be a time of self-expression and exploring independence. They can also be a phase of self-centered behavior as teens learn how their behavior affects the world around them. Teaching your teen how to be empathetic and learn to consider the needs of others over their own is an important skill they need to learn, but may be easier said than done. Adolescents struggling with behavioral issues are often even more egocentric than their peers and may be difficult to reach, but research has shown a strong connection between performing service for others and a lessening of stress and depression. Giving your teen consistent opportunities to help others could play a large part in helping them heal and develop the ability to empathize with others. However, the question is how do you encourage your teen to participate in service in a way that will be helpful?

Model Selflessness

Even if it feels as though everything you say to your teen falls on deaf ears, they are still watching and noting the ways that you choose to act. If you make giving and selflessness a part of your daily life, it sends a valuable message to your child about the way life should be lived. At the very least, you will show him that you are not asking anything of him that you are not willing to do yourself.

Create Opportunities

While serving others can feel like a chore at first, even troubled teens are not immune to the good feelings that come from helping others. Start small and make a point of looking for the everyday opportunities around you. For instance, your elderly neighbor might appreciate someone shoveling her snowy driveway, or take an empty garbage bag to your local park and pick up trash for twenty minutes. Even something simple like letting the tired young mom with several active children ahead of you in the grocery store line will make an impact. Make larger acts of service a family affair and let your teen weigh in on potential projects. Not only will regular implementation of service help your teen create good habits, but it may also encourage him to consider the world around him as something he can contribute to in both large and small ways.

Encourage Him

Being overly enthusiastic about every act of service is likely to backfire, since praise isn’t the point of the activity, but you still want to note when he has done something selfless. Whether it is a big or a small act that is done for you or someone else, make sure you reflect the positive gratitude that will help remind him that he is on the right path. When possible, encourage him to make his acts of service as personal as possible. For instance, arrange for your animal lover to volunteer at the local shelter, or get your environmentally conscious teen to collect neighborhood litter clean up or recycling drive.

For more information on how to help your troubled teen, visit us at Help Your Teen Now

Parenting Tips to Try Before Taking More Serious Measures

Troubled teens engage in all kinds of harsh behaviors that might begin as early as middle school. These tough years can mean difficult parenting challenges as you struggle to help your adolescent successfully navigate through these stages.

Understanding the Teen Brain

We often think of teens as miniature adults. After all, they are often fully grown, towering over their parents in size and stature. However, just because they look like adults doesn’t mean that they have the decision-making skills or the impulse control that comes with maturity. Studies have shown that their brains are still growing, which means they can easily become involved in in risky behaviors, such as drinking, drug use, speeding, illegal behavior or engaging in unprotected sex. You might try the following suggestions if you are dealing with unwanted behaviors in your home.

  • Set Clear and Firm Boundaries - You might have rules in your home, but if you don’t set and stick to consequences, your teen will push the limits and cross them every time. He or she needs to understand what will happen if they break the rules. Match the violation to the discipline. For example, if your teen doesn’t make curfew, he can’t go out the next weekend. Remind him that when he chooses the behavior, he chooses the consequence.
  • Write Down Expectations - If you write it down or type it up, your teen will have no excuse to say that he doesn’t understand. In some cases, you can even have him sign a list of expectations or a behavior contract and keep it posted in plain view.
  • Agree with Your Partner - Whether or not you are a couple, you are parents who need to work together. If your teen thinks that one of you will always cave, he will look for the weakest link.
  • Choose Your Battles - Consider being flexible about things you don't normally like. You can give a little when it comes to the teens choice of hairstyle because this is something that will change often. However, stay firm about safe driving habits and forbidding substance abuse.
  • Model Expected Behavior - If you don’t want your child to swear, then you will need to watch your language as well. Your child will see through your hypocrisy if you can’t adhere to your own standards.
  • Act Responsibly - Help your child learn how to make good decisions. Teach them that their behaviors have consequences. You can start small by giving them manageable choices with minor consequences so they can gain experience before the choices get bigger and the consequences become more life altering.

Consider Another Option

If you have tried all of the above strategies with no lasting success, you might consider a therapeutic boarding school for your struggling child. Removal from his environment and placement in a facility can work wonders for him. Look into treatment options than can create lasting change for your teen today.