Other Youth Topics

Opioids

Opioids are a group of drugs that includes heroin (an illegal substance) and prescription pain relievers such as hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin), and morphine, which are legal when prescribed by a licensed health care provider. Opioid misuse occurs when a person uses heroin or misuses prescription pain relievers.

Although opioid use is decreasing among high school students, in 2016 nearly four percent of the approximately 12 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 reported misusing opioids over the past year. This usage was even higher at seven percent among older adolescents and young adults, aged 18 to 25. The majority of this misuse was due to prescription drugs, not heroin.[1]

Although the overall rate of death from opioid misuse is low, the rate of overdose deaths among adolescents is increasing. For instance, in 2015 there were more than 4,200 youth aged 15 to 24 who died from a drug related overdose and more than half of these deaths were due to opioid misuse.

Family Involvement in Adolescent Opioid Addiction Recovery

Family involvement in adolescent opioid addiction treatment is crucial to a successful recovery. Family members can play an important role in motivating an adolescent to enter and remain in a treatment program.

Parents or guardians of an adolescent who has been misusing opioids need to know the warning signs of opioid misuse, how best to approach the adolescent, and how to decide which treatment program is the best for the adolescent.

Signs of opioid misuse in adolescents can include:

  • drowsiness,
  • constipation,
  • nausea,
  • dizziness,
  • vomiting,
  • dry mouth,
  • headaches,
  • sweating,
  • mood changes,
  • loss of appetite, and
  • weakness.[2]

If you think an adolescent may be misusing opioids, the following tips from the Drug Enforcement Agency may help you decide to how to approach him or her about this:

  • Choose the right time to talk. Be sure the adolescent has not been using opioids before talking.
  • Voice your suspicion. Begin by expressing your concerns without making accusations.
  • Be specific. Explain what you observed to make you concerned.
  • Be prepared for strong reactions. Stay calm.
  • Reinforce what you think about drug use. Tell him or her how much you care for him or her.
  • Get help from the experts. Contact the school counselor, school nurse, or family doctor about your concerns.

Trying to find the right treatment program for an adolescent who is misusing a substance, such as opioids, can be confusing and overwhelming for a parent or guardian. To help with this important decision-making process, the National Institute on Drug Abuse created this brief guide based on the following five questions to ask when searching for a treatment program:

  1. Does the program use treatments backed by scientific evidence?
  2. Does the program tailor treatment to the needs of each patient?
  3. Does the program adapt treatment as the patient’s needs change?
  4. Is the duration of treatment sufficient?

How do 12-step or similar recovery programs fit into drug addiction treatment

Resources

U.S. Department of Education

Combating the Opioid Crisis: Schools, Students, Families
This overview provided by the U.S. Department of Education provides information on the opioid epidemic in the U.S. and how the federal government is responding to this public health crisis.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Help, Resources and Information: National Opioids Crisis
This website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information on the current opioid crisis, and information on opioid misuse prevention, where and how to get treatment, and recovery.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Report from the Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Guideline Workgroup (PDF, 93 pages)
This report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidelines for treating mild traumatic brain injury that addresses headache and prescribing medication in young people.

Health Resources and Services Administration

SBIRT: A Model for Adolescent Substance Use Prevention (PDF, 9 pages)
This guide from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration provides an overview of implementing the SBIRT model (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment and Intervention) in school-based health centers. SBIRT is an evidence-based approach to identifying, reducing, and preventing substance use, misuse, and dependence.

National Institutes of Health

Pain Information for Health Professionals
This website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health provides health professionals information on different types of pain and pain management.

Mind Matters: The Brain’s Response to Opioids
This webpage from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teachers provides one of the booklets from the Mind Over Matter series for middle schoolers. Mind Matters is a series that explores the ways that different drugs affect your brain, body, and life. This issues talks about opioids.

Mind Over Matter: The Brain's Response to Prescription Drug Abuse
This webpage from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teachers provides one of the booklets from the Mind Over Matter series for middle schoolers. Mind Matters is a series that explores the ways that different drugs affect your brain, body, and life. In this issue, fascinating facts about prescription drugs are explored.

NIDA Easy-to-Read Drug Misuse Facts
This webpage from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse provides easy-to-read information on why people misuse drugs, and information on different types of drugs such as alcohol, bath salts, cocaine, e-cigarettes, heroin, and marijuana.

NIDA for Teens
This website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens provides the latest information and resources on how drugs affect the brain and body. Featuring videos, games, blog posts and more.

Drug Facts for Teens: Opioids
This webpage from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens provides information and resources on prescription pain medications, including drug facts, videos and games, blog posts, and resources for teachers.

Out of Control: Opioids and the Brain
This blog post from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens provides information on why opioids are so addictive.

Opioids: Just the Facts
This blog post from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens provides information on opioids including: what they are, what are the most commonly used opioids, the risks of opioid use, and the dangers of fentanyl.

Helpful Links for Parents
This webpage from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for Parents provides helpful links to additional NIDA resources on topics such as addiction science, drugged driving, and drug abuse treatment. There are also resources provided in Spanish.

Teachers: Classroom Resources on Drug Effects
This webpage from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens provides Lessons, activities, and drug facts to educate teens about the effects and consequences of drug use.

You Can Help Reduce the Opioid Crisis
This blog post from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens gives straightforward tips on how to help reduce the impact of the opioid crisis.

What to Do If You Have a Problem with Drugs: For Teens and Young Adults
This resource from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse provides an easy to use online guide for teens and young adults to use if they have a problem with drugs. The guide provides answers to important questions such as, If I want to task for help, where do I start? and, What kind of counseling should I get?

What to Do If Your Teen or Young Adult Has a Problem with Drugs
This resource from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse provides an easy to use online guide for parents and guardians who think that their teen or young adult has a problem with drugs. The guide provides answers to important questions such as, If I want help for my teen or young adult, where do I start? and, If my child refuses to cooperate, should the family conduct an intervention?

Office of Adolescent Health

Adolescent Substance Use, Addiction, and Treatment: A TAG Talk
This video from youth.gov and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health discusses the importance of addressing substance use and addiction in adolescents and young adults and the most effective approaches to treating addiction, including opioid addiction. There are also helpful supplemental materials such as discussion guides for professionals (PDF, 2 pages) and families (PDF, 2 pages), as well as a comprehensive list of additional resources (PDF, 3 pages).

Opioids and Adolescents
This webpage from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health provides a comprehensive overview of current data on opioid use in adolescents, how to get help, and additional resources.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
This directory from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a confidential and anonymous source of information for people seeking treatment facilities substance abuse/addiction.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline — 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
This directory from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a confidential and anonymous source of information for people seeking treatment facilities substance abuse/addiction.

The White House

Opioids: The Crisis Next Door
This website from the White House provides information on the opioid crisis and a place for people to share their stories about how opioid addiction has affected their life.

Non-Federal

Opioids|truth
This website from truth provides facts on opioids as well as resources about prevention and treatment.


1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2017
2 Office of Adolescent Health, n.d.

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