The Latest on Youth Drug Issues
Drug use among young people is nothing new, and it’s been on the rise. Many young people don’t understand the facts and potential risks that come with abusing drugs.
Opioid Abuse an Epidemic
Opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone and heroin are powerful drugs with serious risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared abuse of these drugs to be an epidemic. Young people may think they know the dangers, but the truth is that prescribed drugs can be every bit as destructive as heroin when they are misused.
The truth is that heroin is from the very same drug family as opioid medications. There was a time when the image of an addicted heroin user with tracks on his arms was the stereotype for heavy, deadly drug use. With the explosion of prescribed opioids over the past few decades that image has been replaced by young people abusing drugs that come out of medicine bottles, but with the very same highly addictive result and overdose danger.
Marijuana Not Benign
Medical marijuana use has been approved by a large number of states, and to date two states have approved recreational marijuana use. It’s not associated with fatal overdoses like opioids, marijuana is an addictive substance that tends to derail young people from setting and achieving meaningful life goals. Smoking pot lowers motivation, learning ability, sexual performance and the body’s normal immune responses. Even though people smoke pot to feel high, most marijuana users wind up struggling with depression.
Overdose is Killing Young People in Alarming Numbers
It’s not unusual for young people to feel that death and tragedy don’t concern them. Yet accidental overdose is a leading killer among adolescents. Part of the reason for this is a hesitation to call for help when it appears one of the group is in distress. To avoid begin caught and getting into trouble young people have left a friend who often dies without medical attention.
Young people need to be aware of recent Good Samaritan rulings on the books which protect those who report a potential drug overdose from criminal prosecution. Meaning it’s safe to take an at-risk friend to the hospital, or to call 911.
The Need for Treatment
There are 23.5 million people in this country dealing with addiction, and 90 percent of them started using before age 18. What feels like harmless experimentation or joining in with the group eventually becomes a serious problem for a large number of people.
Once addiction takes hold it lurks in one’s life like a shadow, even if the individual seeks help and finds recovery, something only 10 percent of addicts ever do. Addiction treatment is more effective and available than it has ever been.
The fact is drugs are not harmless fun. They’re a serious risk, even though most young people don’t realize it. Addiction is risky, overdose is possible but treatment is available.
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