[This article is part of a youth ministry series we have been writing about for years. Click the link to check out all of the other articles we have here.]
As with all substance use, you need to know the facts of the substance and unfortunately many of these facts are specific to teenagers.
- 3.6% of adolescents (ages 12-17) reported misusing opioids over the past year. This percentage is twice as high among older adolescents and young adults (ages 18-25). [SAMHSA]
- 153,000 of adolescents have an opioid use disorder versus 392,000 young adults with the diagnosis.
- Opioids come in many different forms, including oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine including others that are prescribed but can be misused or overprescribed. These are the same general chemical compounds as heroin. All can get you high and overdose.
- 57% of 12- to 17-year olds who misused prescription opioids got them from a friend or relative. [SAMHSA]
- 20% of 12th graders said they could easily get heroin if they wanted to. [The University of Michigan]
- Teens are more likely to abuse prescription opioids if their parents do so, according to a new study. The connection is similar to those seen in parent-child use of cigarettes, marijuana, and alcohol. 14% of adolescents misused prescription opioids if their parents did compare to 8% if their parents did not. [AAP Journals]
- Every day, 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose. Nearly 15,000 people died from a drug overdose involving heroin in the United States [CDC]
- Opioid use can affect every area of your life. Using drugs, especially early in life, can lead to poor grades, worse performance in sports, and bad relationships with friends and family. Opioids also alter judgment which can cause you to do risky things you wouldn’t ordinarily do, like having unprotected sex or getting into a car crash because you drove while under the influence of opioids.
- In some communities, heroin is cheaper and easier to get than prescription opioids. Because of this, people who are addicted to prescription opioids sometimes switch to using heroin instead. It is estimated 4 to 6% who misuse prescription opioids switch to heroin.
- overdose deaths have almost tripled in the last 15 years and the majority of these deaths involve opioids. One of the ways opioids works to relax your body is by slowing down your breathing. When misused, opioids can slow your breathing too much. This can cause you to stop breathing entirely and lead to an overdose. For some people, just one dose is enough to make them stop breathing. Because of this, opioid misuse is generally recommended to head to treatment right away.
List in the comments what other questions or concerns you have.
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