Two thirds of teens who misused prescription opioids got them from a friend or family member.
In our FACT section you can learn what opioids are, how opioids affect your brain and reasons why teens may use them. In this section, we will explore how teens access opioids, and how they can protect themselves from pitfalls that may lead to opioid misuse.
So how are teens accessing opioids in the first place? Some opioids, such as heroin, are illegal. However, many opioids are legal and are prescribed to teens by health care providers to treat pain after sports injuries or dental surgeries. However, two-thirds of teens who misuse prescription medicine get it from friends, family and acquaintances, often taking it directly from household medicine cabinets. For example, a teenager is more likely to abuse opioids if a relative has an opioid addiction or uses prescription opioids. Other times, teens may feel pressured by friends to use opioids.
Prescription opioids should only be taken by the person to whom they are prescribed in the manner in which they are prescribed. When taken other than as prescribed or combined with other prescription medications or illicit substances, the results can be deadly.
Because heroin is often more easily accessible and cheaper than prescription painkillers, many prescription opioid users eventually begin using heroin. 80% of heroin users started with a pain prescription.
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