Opioids are a group of drugs that includes heroin and prescription pain relievers. Presciption pain relievers can be legally prescribed by a physician, making their use/abuse more challenging. Opioids can be made from the poppy plant or can be manufactured synthetically.
Why it's dangerous
- Heroin and prescription opioids are highly addictive drugs that can cause many physical and psychological issues. Short-term effects can include drowsiness, confusion, euphoria, and slowed breathing. Long-term misuse can lead to infections, addiction, and death. In 2017, the federal government declared a public health emergency around the opioid epidemic and prescription drug abuse. In 2021, there were 70,000 overdose deaths involving opioids.
- • Nationally, about 5% of youth misuse prescription drugs.
• Heroin is the 2nd most addictive drug with cocaine identified as the most addictive drug.
• Youth can become addicted to prescription drugs after sports injuries or wisdom teeth removal.
There is a direct link between prescription drugs and heroin use/abuse. Studies have shown that 80% of heroin users first misused prescription opioids. Current data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) shows that fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is lethal in very small amounts, is now estimated to be in 60% of all counterfeit pills and is also being cut into the U.S. heroin supply. This can turn any use, even first-time experimentation, into a lethal overdose.
A: Ask if you can try over the counter medications to manage their pain before a prescription pain medicine is offered.
A: Our youth can access prescription and counterfeit meds from their friends, from unlocked cabinets, and by purchasing them online. It’s a good idea to talk to your kids about not taking any medicines unless prescribed by their doctor.
A: It is defined as taking a medication in a manner or dose other than prescribed, taking someone else’s prescription, or taking medication to get high.
• Make sure your medications are not accessible to your youth by locking them up or safely disposing of unwanted/unused/ expired medications.
• Talk to your family about this issue.
• Modeling good medication habits.
- Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Hotline
Dial 1-888-535-6136 and press “8”
SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Hotline