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