Teen heroin use is on the rise. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 695,000 American adolescents ages 12-17, or 2.8% of that population, misused prescription painkillers (codeine, oxycodone, and other opiates/opioids). These prescription painkillers are a major reason teen heroin use is on the rise. The same survey reported that 4.2 million American adolescents ages 12-17, or 16.7% of that population, used any type of illicit drug in the last month.
Prescription Drugs: The Gateway To Heroin Abuse
Prescription painkillers are a common gateway to heroin use. Heroin use often starts after teens find a painkiller in a parent or friend’s medicine cabinet at home. Nearly half of all young adults who use heroin admit to first abusing prescription painkillers like OxyContin or Vicodin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). On average, painkiller abuse begins two years before heroin use. Teens are turning to heroin because it’s easier to obtain than prescription painkillers. One out of every four high school seniors report that they can “easily obtain” heroin.
Experts believe that the increase in teen heroin use is, in part, due to simple economics. OxyContin, previously the drug of choice, now costs upwards of $80 for a single 80-miligram dose. In contrast, a dime bag of heroin is available for $5. Recent research only furthers this conclusion that the rising price of prescription painkillers – along with formulas that make them more difficult to snort in order to quickly get high – is driving the increase in heroin abuse.
Heroin More Dangerous Today Than Ever Before, Yet Fewer Teens Consider it “Risky”
Heroin is more lethal today than ever before. In 1980, heroin was only 4 percent pure; today, it is 40 percent pure, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Heroin is also so strong that users do not even need to shoot heroin to get high; many teens who are squeamish about needle use prefer to snort or smoke it. At the same time, fewer teens than ever before consider heroin use to be “risky”, according to SAMHSA. Since heroin is stronger than ever, it is also more addictive; one out of every four individuals who try heroin will become addicted.
Heroin reaches the brain in just seven or eight seconds, producing an instantaneous “rush” as the drug bins with opioid receptors. This euphoric surge eventually wears off as heroin users “go on the nod”, alternating between states of being awake and drowsy. Over time, long-term heroin abuse can change brain chemistry and also lead to tolerance. Users need increasingly greater amounts of the drug to achieve the same high. The opioid receptors that heroin activates are also involved in breathing, which is why a single dose of heroin can be so lethal. Individuals who are addicted to heroin must have the drug every 8 to 12 hours in order to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms, including restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia and diarrhea. Going “cold turkey” can actually be fatal amongst heavily dependent users.
Teen Heroin Use Is On The Rise: Here’s How To Treat It
Teen heroin use is on the rise, but teens and parents aren’t helpless in this fight. If your teen is one of the reasons teen heroin use is on the rise, get them heroin addiction treatment immediately. At Destinations for Teens, we offer a variety of therapies that will help your teen stop using heroin. At Destinations for Teens, our therapies for treating heroin addiction include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Psychotherapy Program
- Art Therapy
- Biking Therapy
- Dance Movement Therapy
- Exercise Therapy
- Experiential Therapy
- Family Therapy for Teens
- Group Therapy
- Holistic Therapy
- Individual Therapy
- Meditation Therapy Program
- Mindfulness Therapy Program
- Music Therapy
- Recreational Therapy Program
- Yoga Therapy
Teen Heroin Use Is On The Rise: Here’s What Parents Can Do
Prevention is truly the best treatment. Teens whose parents regularly talk to them about the dangers of drug abuse are 42 percent less likely to use drugs than those whose parents do not discuss the dangers of drug abuse. However, only one in four teens reports having a conversation with their parents about the dangers of drug abuse.
As a parent, it is never too early to discuss the dangers of drug use with your child. When your child is in high school, it is also important to keep a close eye out for warning signs of potential drug abuse, such as changes in your child’s friendships, academic performance, motivation to work hard, and overall health. Early intervention is essential to preventing long-term addiction. Finally, since prescription drugs often serve as a gateway to heroin abuse, never leave unused medications in a place where your child can easily access them; lock up any prescription drugs that are currently in use or flush unused drugs down the toilet.
While heroin is highly addictive, there is hope. Substance abuse treatment centers can help teens take the first steps back to sobriety through methadone maintenance programs that make it easier to discontinue heroin abuse.
Give us a call at 877.466.0620 to learn more about heroin abuse and how we can provide support.