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Friday, October 7, 2016

Young Adults Abusing Prescription Opioids

Everyone in America has been touched by the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. Even if you do not have a problem with opioids yourself, there is a good chance you know somebody who does, or has struggled with opioids in the past. In no other time in our history, have we seen a substance abuse problem affect people from so many different walks of life, which reinforces the idea that addiction does not discriminate.

Prescription opioid abuse often starts with a patient complaining about pain to their primary care physician. Patients with no history of drug or alcohol abuse start by taking their painkillers as prescribed, but as time goes on what started as intended use, can quickly turn into unintended use and abuse. One of the reasons the problem in America has gotten so bad, is that doctors often fail to explain the dangers of prescription opioid use. What’s more, doctors typically prescribe more pills than a patient requires. When the pain subsides, the leftover pills often sit collecting dust or end up in the wrong hands.

Unfortunately, sometimes those wrong hands belong to young adults. In fact, new research suggests that young adults are at a greater risk of forming an addiction to prescription opioids than they were in years past, HealthDay reports. They were also more likely to use heroin, which is often stronger, cheaper and easier to come by than prescription opioids. The findings were published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

Researchers from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City found that opioid use disorder more than doubled among 26- to 34-year-olds, rising from 11 percent to 24 percent, between 2002 and 2014, according to the article. Opioid use disorder increased 37 percent among 18- to 25-year-olds.

"Our analyses present the evidence to raise awareness and urgency to address these rising and problematic trends among young adults," said study first author Dr. Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology. "The potential development of prescription opioid use disorder among youth and young adults represents an important and growing public health concern."

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