The epidemic of opioid addiction is continuing in America. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people in the nation have died from overdoses related to prescription opioids. Another alarming trend is that more and more young people have been affected.
Families, schools, and communities should make opioid use a part of the prevention conversation. Everyone should play a positive role in raising awareness about the problem. Doing so can also dissipate the widespread stigma of opioid addiction, with the hope of getting more individuals into treatment.
Why Are Opioid Drugs Highly Accessible in the Community?
Opioids include many prescription medications for pain management that bind to specific receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. Common prescription opioids include morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl, and buprenorphine. Many illicit drugs, such as heroin, also belong in this category.
Because of the prevalent use of pain medications in America, and the easy access to the prescription drugs listed above, opioids are almost everywhere in the community.
The high accessibility of these drugs is one contributing factor to the opioid addiction epidemic. Anybody who uses opioids for long-term pain management is at risk of opioid addiction and overdose.
When Young People Experiment With Opioid Drugs
Many young people in America have access to opioid drugs either through prescription or by misusing other people’s prescriptions. Because their brains are still at a developmental stage before 25, experimenting with opioid drugs can be highly consequential.
Those who persistently use will surely experience problems such as declining academic performance, absenteeism, unprotected sexual activities, and mental health problems.
Conversations with trusted adults are important for teenage children experimenting with opioid drugs. Teenagers and even young adults do not always recognize the risks of using opioids.
Teens should be encouraged to talk openly and honestly about their experiences with opioid use. They should be educated by a knowledgeable adult about the dangers associated with opioid use.
Parents should maintain understanding and empathy toward their child’s drug experimentation, yet also be sure to set boundaries and consequences. Parents should consider talking to their child’s friends and their parents to develop consistent expectations.
How to Prevent Opioid Overdose
Overdose is very common among people who use opioids. In order to prevent overdose from happening to more people, communities should be educated and mobilized. For example, medical providers should know which groups are at risk in order to track and monitor them.
High-risk groups include people who are receiving rotating opioid mediation, patients who have been discharged from emergency care and given pain medications, and people who have a history of misusing opioids.
The public needs to be educated on how to identify overdose symptoms before calling 911 for help. First responders should be trained to recognize signs of overdose, including unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, blue lips, or fingernails. These symptoms need immediate medical attention.
Concerned communities and families need to ensure ready access to naloxone, a medication to intervene with all opioid overdose instances. This medication works by displacing opioids from receptor sites in the brain.
Naloxone can be effective in treating fentanyl-involved overdoses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved various forms of this medication, including delivery in a nasal spray device. If an overdosing person does not respond within three minutes of administering naloxone, the first responder should administer a second dose.
Fentanyl-involved overdoses can be particularly alarming because of their higher potency. It may take multiple doses of naloxone to reverse the opioid-induced respiratory depression caused by fentanyl.
While administering naloxone, it is vital to support the overdosing person’s airway. Rescue breathing techniques such as chest compression may be needed.
There are a few things to avoid when helping an overdosing person. They should be placed into a cold bath, which may lead to drowning. First responders should not inject the person with any substance other than naloxone, which is the only safe and appropriate treatment. Vomiting should not be induced because it may lead to choking.
Why Are Prevention and Early Intervention Key?
With the release of Dopesick, a hit drama series depicting how the opioid crisis began, society has been paying attention to this public health emergency. It is crucial to support media campaigns to increase the public’s knowledge about the wide access to opioids and their risks. Community education can also help dispel misconceptions and stigma around opioid addiction, which often become barriers to treatment.
School-based opioid prevention is urgently needed. Research shows that having a stronger school community can serve as a protective factor. Students committed to doing well and finishing high school are less likely to misuse prescription medications. While community access to opioids can put youth at greater risk, strong parent, peer, and community disapproval of opioid misuse is a significant protective factor for youth.
With the alarming increase in teen addiction cases, are you worried about your children or young adults being exposed to opioids and other illicit drugs? As parents and family members, you need to first get educated on this topic. It is critical for educators and parents to participate in awareness campaigns. You also need to work with experienced recovery experts who have the expertise to treat young people. If you are looking for these, do not look beyond Casa Recovery. Here we have a group of experienced health professionals who specialize in supporting recovering individuals by addressing their social and relationship concerns. Your treatment team will work with you to provide customized, efficient, and effective treatment methods that have been developed and applied in clinical settings. We provide both individual, group, and family counseling so that our clients enjoy the best of healthy relationships. Call today at (888) 928-2272.