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Significant association discovered between parental and adolescent prescription opioid misuse
Feb 27 2019

Significant association discovered between parental and adolescent prescription opioid misuse


Teens learn different kinds of behaviors from their parents. The same is true for prescription opioid misuse also. Corroborating this, a recent study suggested a close connection between parental and adolescent misuse of prescription opioids. According to a common observation in research literature, the children of drug-dependent parents face an increased risk of adolescent drug abuse and dependence.

The study findings were a result of an analysis of the data derived from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2004 to 2012. It surveyed 35,000 parents with adolescent kids aged 12-17 living in their household. Out of these 35,000 parents, nearly two-thirds were mothers.

As a part of the survey, the researchers asked the participant parents and their kids if they had ever used any one of the 21 prescription opioids without a doctor’s prescription. They were also probed about taking prescription drugs just for the sake of experiencing the feelings of euphoria that these kind of drugs induced.

Adolescents of parents misusing opioids twice as likely to do so

Out of the 35,000 surveyed parents, around 14 percent reported prescription opioid misuse. Further, white parents reported higher rates of prescription drug use (16 percent) compared to African-American (10 percent), and Hispanic parents (9 percent). Around 9 percent of adolescents belonging to various races and ethnic backgrounds reported opioid misuse. Study findings also revealed that the tendency to misuse prescription opioids increased with age; from 4 percent among 12-year-olds to 15 percent among 17-year-olds.

According to the study, adolescents were twice as likely to misuse opioids when at least one of their parents had a history of doing the same. Statistics revealed that around 14 percent adolescents had misused opioids, when one of their parents had done so, compared to 8 percent adolescents whose parents had not. However, the statistics differed with the gender of the parent. For instance, the study revealed that opioid misuse was particularly associated with the mothers of adolescent kids abusing prescription drugs.

What is prescription drug abuse?

When an individual takes a prescription drug for any other purpose than its medical use and in a non-specified dosage, it is referred to as prescription drug abuse. Some of the classes of drugs that are commonly misused include:

  • Opioids, prescribed for pain management
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, such as hypnotics, sedatives, and tranquilizers, used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
  • Stimulants, prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Misuse of prescription drugs can lead to severe medical consequences. There has been a surge in the misuse of prescription drugs in the last 15 years not only by adults, but also by teens. Misuse of prescription drugs, such as opioids, stimulants, and CNS depressants, is a major public health concern in the United States. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 3.1 adolescents, aged 12-17, misused prescription opioids, including heroin, opioids, and pain relievers.

Factors associated with adolescents’ misuse of prescription opioids

Several parental factors associated with adolescents’ misusing prescription opioids were identified by the researchers. These included high levels of parent-adolescent conflict and lifetime smoking. As per the study, if adolescents smoked cigarettes, used marijuana, were depressed, or saw most of their classmates using drugs, they were more likely to misuse opioids.

The researchers concluded that similar to other types of substance abuse, parental non-medical prescription opioid (NMPO) use was associated with their offspring using it. This fact needs to be considered, in order to take dedicated efforts to reduce adolescent NMPO usage. “Parent-based interventions targeted at NMPO use among youth should not only address parental NMPO use but should also promote positive parenting practices,” said lead author Pamela Griesler.

Causes of prescription drug abuse among teens

Apart from what the study found, there are several other reasons behind teens abusing prescription drugs. Some of these include:

  • To experience a feeling of high or increased alertness
  • To experience the mental euphoria associated with prescription drugs
  • To reduce appetite
  • To maintain an addiction
  • To prevent withdrawal symptoms
  • To improve concentration levels at school
  • To be socially acceptable by peers
  • To feel relaxed and reduce stress

Symptoms of prescription drug abuse

Depending on the type of drugs misused by a teenager, the symptoms of prescription drug abuse varies. Some of these include:

  • Symptoms like drowsiness, confusion, nausea, constipation, disorientation, slowed breathing, feeling of euphoria, increased sensitivity to pain with higher doses, and requirement of higher dose are typically associated with opioid abuse.
  • Symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, paranoia, high blood pressure and body temperature, and improved alertness are experienced in the case of stimulant abuse.
  • Symptoms including poor concentration, dizziness, slurred speech, drowsiness, slowed breathing, unsteady walking, and memory deficits are typically seen when teens abuse sedatives and hypnotics.

Recovering from prescription drug abuse at ADEONA Healthcare

Treatment for prescription drug misuse depends on the type of prescription drug abuse and other factors such as dosage, severity of addiction, duration, etc. The treatment comprises detoxification, addiction medication, alternative theories, counselling, and support during and after recovery.

A leader in teen prescription drug abuse treatment, ADEONA Healthcare of Rancho San Diego provides customized, research-backed treatment interventions in a safe and secure environment. Our comprehensive treatment plans at ADEONA Healthcare for teens aged 12-17, are aimed at offering high level of care to teen patients.

If you know a teenager addicted to prescription opioids, then get in touch with ADEONA Healthcare. You can call our 24/7 teen drug abuse helpline (888) 997-3966 to learn more about our prescription drug rehab center and the line of treatment offered at our facility. You can also chat online with our representative for more information about our highly effective treatment interventions for prescription drug abuse.