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Young People are Using Synthetic Opioids

drugs 2793133 640 2

drugs 2793133 640 2

During the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, drug abuse statistics amongst young people were reducing, year after year, almost in an unprecedented fashion. This was truly incredible. Young people, an age demographic traditionally associated with extensive substance abuse rates, was actually experiencing a nationwide reduction in drug use. This was true for illegal street drugs, for prescription drugs, and even for alcohol. Now, however, all of that is beginning to change as young people are becoming increasingly dependent on opioid drugs. Opioid drug addiction is the fastest growing addiction problem in the U.S., and it is a problem that has affected hundreds of thousands of young people.

Opioid addiction, particularly with synthetic opioids, has been increasing considerably. However, access to addiction treatment for young adults is still few and far between. Young people often don’t have access to professional inpatient treatment and, if they do, they often don’t have the means to afford such treatment methods.

NIDA Research Indicates that Opioids are the Worst Addiction Problem for Young Americans to Have

The National Institute on Drug Abuse performed extensive research on young people, electing to find out what was the worst addiction problem amongst this age demographic, all in an effort to find ways of helping young people more effectively. According to the NIDA research, the non-medical use of prescription opioids amongst young people is extremely prevalent. New research shows that seven out of ten teens and young adults have used painkillers non-medically at least once. When young people misuse opioid drugs, even prescription opioid painkillers that are, “supposed to be safe,” those young people face significant addiction and overdose risk.

The NIDA researchers also found out that seven out of ten young adults and teens who misuse opioid painkillers also tends to mix their opioid painkillers with something else sliced into the painkillers. These types of drugs are called “synthetic opioids” and they are even more dangerous than straight, opioid painkillers are.

The research project found that the number of teens and young people who are becoming “poly-drug users” (addicts who misuse more than one substance) is growing. The research indicates that twenty-four percent of young adult opioid users also use marijuana, and fifteen percent also use alcohol.

Why Synthetic Opioids?

People often wonder what would inspire a drug user to use synthetic opioids. Why synthetic opioids? What is the appeal? Why not just self-medicate on prescription painkillers? The misuse of just prescription painkillers would still be risky, but at least it would have the appearance of normalcy.

The reason why people, especially young people, mix and match opioids is that they are able to get a stronger, more potent high from mixed opioids than they can from just straight painkillers. Let’s take a look at a handful of direct quotes from a NIDA research paper on this exact subject.

According to NIDA:

  • “The rewarding effects of opioids, whether they are medications, heroin, or illicitly produced synthetic opioids, are increased when they are delivered rapidly into the brain, which is why non-medical users often inject them directly into the bloodstream. Fentanyl, in particular, is highly fat-soluble, which allows it to rapidly enter the brain, leading to a fast onset of effects. This high potency and rapid onset are likely to increase the risk for both addiction and overdose, as well as withdrawal symptoms.”

The report went on to discuss the dangers and the very real risks present with synthetic opioids, explaining that synthetic opioids are even more dangerous than their already very dangerous opioid painkiller predecessors:

  • “The emergence of illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids including fentanyl, carfentanil, and their analogues represents an escalation of the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic. Fentanyl is a µ-opioid receptor agonist that is 80 times more potent than morphine is in vivo. While fentanyl is available as a prescription, primarily used for anesthesia, treating post-surgical pain, and for the management of pain in opioid-tolerant patients, it is the illicitly manufactured versions that have been largely responsible for the tripling of overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids in just two years, from 3,105 in 2013 to 9,580 in 2015.”

Clearly, synthetic opioids present an even greater risk to young addicts and to all Americans for that matter.

Reducing Addiction Amongst Young Americans

Reducing addiction statistics amongst young people is no easy task. This is a considerable problem and challenge that we must face. Young people are once again becoming a demographic that tends to misuse drugs regularly. To reduce this problem, we all need to work on two primary areas:

  • Prevention. Prevention is the act of stopping someone from becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol before the habit even gets ahold of them. This is crucial because it prevents the growth of the addiction epidemic. The best way to prevent people from becoming addicted is to educate them on the truth and the very real dangers attendant with drug use, even with prescription drug use.
  • Rehabilitation. Prevention is all fine and good, but it’s all for naught if those who are actively addicted are not helped off of their addiction habits. This is where rehabilitation comes into play. With rehabilitation at an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab center, anyone can get off of drugs and alcohol. This is how we reduce the population of those who are actively addicted.

When young people abuse drugs and alcohol, they risk causing permanent damage and potentially even taking their own lives. As young adult addiction statistics begin to increase, we need to take even more care to reduce these statistics through the above, two methods.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2017/research-use-misuse-fentanyl-other-synthetic-opioids

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/teens-mix-prescription-opioids-other-substances

https://ascpjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13722-018-0116-2

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