Tag Archives: teen drug abuse

Xanax Abuse Rates Rising

With all eyes on the opioid problem in America, many people are missing the fact that millions of people are also abusing other prescriptions, such as Xanax. These anti-anxiety drugs have a very high potential for abuse and addiction and there is evidence that it is becoming even more prevalent.

Xanax Seen as Safer than Other Drugs

Addiction specialists are expecting a continued increase in the number of teens and young adults addicted to Xanax and other sedatives belonging to a class of anti-anxiety drugs called benzodiazepines (“benzos”). A number of young people feel that Xanax is safer and more readily available than other drugs, but it is certainly just as dangerous. The drug is abused by itself and also commonly taken with other substances, such as painkillers or alcohol.

Like most other substances, people can develop a tolerance over time, requiring more of it to achieve the same effect. This can lead people who have legitimate prescriptions for the drug to eventually become dependent and sometimes even farther down the path toward addiction.

Often, teens are finding the pills in their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets, not realizing they can be just as dangerous as opioids or illicit drugs. The risk to health and life increases when Xanax is taken with other drugs and/or alcohol.

Risk of Addiction Higher with Younger Start

When Xanax use starts early in life, the risk of addiction increases. A recent US Surgeon General’s report on drugs and indicated that close to 70 percent of young people who experiment with an illicit drug before the age of 13 will become addicted within the next seven years. Waiting to try illicit drugs until after the age of 17 lowers the risk of addiction to 27 percent.

Addiction professionals are seeing a significant increase in the number of teens and young adults who are addicted to Xanax. Many of them are taking high doses of the drug on a daily basis, sometimes in combination with opioids and alcohol.

Sharon Levy, the director of adolescent addiction treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital, explained that hospitals see trends first. She stated that benzo use among adolescents has “skyrocketed” and that more young people are being admitted to hospitals for withdrawals due to the possibility of dangerous seizures. At the same time, fewer teens are seeking help for prescription opioid addiction.

Special Recovery Schools Help Teens Stay Clean

Young people often seem to be at a disadvantage when trying to get off drugs. Less than half of addiction treatment centers in the US will accept teens, and not all of those actually offer programs specifically geared toward clients in this age group.

After a teen completes a course of treatment, there is typically little in the way of structured support. When they return to school, they are faced with offers to start using again from their friends.

When Students Hold Each Other Accountable

Recovery schools, like Hope Academy in Indianapolis, are places where all learners have something in common. These tuition-free schools create an environment where the students hold each other accountable.

The opioid epidemic has affected adults in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s for the most part, but teens haven’t been immune, thoug. Every day, 1,100 young people in this age group start misusing pain medications. Additionally, overdose rates continue rising for teens as well.

Researchers still have work do to get the full story about the effects of opioids on young brains. However, it is known that starting at an early age is one of the risk factors for addiction, as the majority of adults in treatment for a substance abuse problem say they were teens the first time they started using.

The research does show that adolescents in recovery do better in special schools that rely on peer communities to support students’ sobriety. Currently, there are about 36 schools of this type in the US. Interest in them is growing among educators and health officials due to the opioid crisis.

Drug Tests and Recovery Coaches Part of the Plan

Random drug tests are conducted on students at recovery schools. If they test positive for a substance, they attend a meeting with a recovery coach. During the session, the recovery coach uses tools such as motivational interviewing to ask open-ended questions and reflective listening to discuss the situation and get the students to think for themselves. These young people are not used to having someone say to them, “What do you think you should do next?”

There are times where residential treatment centers simply aren’t appropriate for teens who are abusin drugs, but they still need a change of environment. Resources like recovery schools help provide necessary interventions while being able to keep progressing socially in a supportive educational environment.

Athletics May Prevent Teens From Abusing Drugs

athletics help prevent drug abuseA new study recently completed by researchers at the University of Michigan shows that teenagers who are involved with sports are less likely to abuse heroin and prescription drugs. With the opioid epidemic that our nation is currently facing, more people are searching out factors that can be applied as a preventative measure.

In the past, researchers have found that children and teenagers in high contact sports are considered more likely to abuse prescription painkillers after being prescribed medications for injuries. In fact, other studies have shown that teenagers that are prescribed prescription painkillers for injuries are 33% more likely to abuse opioids after the prescription runs out.

However, this new study provides an alternate view on teenage sports. According to lead researcher, Philip Veliz, most sports that teenagers participate in are not high contact, high injury sports. These less violent sports provide a protective barrier between drug use and teenagers, and the percentage of those helped by the athletics is far greater than those that are potentially harmed.

“The unfortunate pattern of prescription painkiller misuse to heroin use was not something that was more likely to occur among athletes either moderately or highly involved in sports,” explained Veliz, lead author of the study and an assistant research professor at the University of Michigan.

Before reaching this conclusion, the research team poured over information gathered in the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey from 1997 to 2014. They found that over 53% of eighth- and tenth-graders reported being highly involved in some sort of sport. Nearly 39% of respondents stated that they were moderately involved in sports and almost 8% reported that they did not participate in sports. The teenagers were then asked questions regarding their prescription drug and heroin use. Those who participated heavily in sports were much less likely to abuse drugs than those that did not participate in sports at all.

While some critics point out that the amount of teenagers participating in violent sports needs to be addressed, the study does show that extracurricular activities can be important in keeping children and teenagers away from drugs.