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Is My Teen Athlete at Risk of Opioid Use?

Prescription drugs are some of the most easily accessible drugs to misuse, as many households have a designated medicine cabinet that a curious teen could get into if they wanted to. Many teens have taken prescription drugs that were not their own to get high. Teen athletes, in particular, are vulnerable to opioid addiction as this group of individuals are commonly prescribed opioids for pain relief, especially for sports injuries.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids refer to a class of drugs that are prescribed by doctors to treat or manage chronic or severe pain. These drugs are much more effective at relieving persistent or intolerable pain, unlike over-the-counter pain relievers, which are meant to relieve minor aches and pains. Some common prescription opioids include morphine, hydrocodone (Vicodin), and oxycodone (OxyContin).

Although these painkillers are effective at relieving physical pain, they can be very addictive. They can produce significant feelings of euphoria when taken in large doses; however, the effect doesn’t last very long. Many people get addicted to these drugs from legitimate prescriptions from misusing them, such as taking them in larger quantities or different than what was instructed by their doctor. With time, the amount of the drug will need to be increased to achieve the desired effects of the drug. When consumed in high doses, these drugs can be incredibly dangerous.

Parents of children recovering from surgery or other injuries who are prescribed opioids for pain relief must be incredibly vigilant about how much of the drug is given and where these drugs are kept.

Why Do Teens Misuse Opioids?

Many factors contribute to opioid abuse in young people. Sometimes it’s curiosity or boredom; sometimes, the reason is peer pressure and wanting to fit in with certain social groups. The convenience of obtaining opioids is also an attractive feature to many teens since they don’t require obtaining illicit drugs or spending their own money to do so.

Understanding Opioid Addiction

It doesn’t take long for opioid abuse to quickly take over one’s life. As with other drugs, the euphoria that may be experienced through opioid use is addictive. It can make it difficult to enjoy other things that once brought a healthy source of pleasure, such as playing sports or spending time with friends. When the body is deprived of the drug, the withdrawal can make the user feel sick. Oftentimes, withdrawal symptoms cause an individual to engage in substance use repeatedly. With time and through repeated use, the individual will need to consume higher amounts of the drug to feel better or experience greater euphoria. This is the point that addiction sets in.

What Are Common Signs of Opioid Abuse in Teens?

Signs of opioid abuse in teens can vary. Some common warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Changes in mood
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive drowsiness or fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid mood changes
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Bodily weakness

If you notice any of these symptoms in your teen, early intervention is critical for lasting recovery.

How Can Parents Prevent Opioid Abuse In Teens?

As a parent, you want to spare your child from pain and suffering. Talk to your child’s doctor about what kind of aftercare your teen should receive after surgery or treatment for an injury. Understand how long their healing process should take. Most importantly, you’ll want to hear directly from your child’s doctor how much of an opioid is necessary if they are prescribed them and when to stop taking the medication.

Know Your Options for Pain Relief

While opioid painkillers can help relieve pain, the possible consequences make many people rightfully question just how necessary they are. Know that opioids don’t have to be the only option of pain relief for your child. There are alternative pain management techniques that can increase the effectiveness of over-the-counter pain relievers. You may also want to consider combining non-prescriptive pain relievers with icepacks, heating pads, mindfulness techniques, or even distractions such as TV or music.

Properly Dispose of Extra Medication

It’s not uncommon for doctors to prescribe more of the drug than is necessary during the healing process. This practice is called overprescribing, and it plays a major role in developing an addiction to opioids. Patients may feel they need to consume all of their prescription in order to feel better, even after they start to feel better. However, opioids are not like antibiotics in that you must take all of them to fully fight an infection. Opioids are prescribed and consumed as needed.

Parents would do well to properly dispose of leftover pills rather than keep them in a medicine cabinet. It is not recommended to flush pills, as they can contaminate the water system. Instead, you can likely return unused pills to the pharmacy or local police department, where they can be disposed of properly.

Opioid abuse can happen to any teenager, but athletes have a higher risk because it’s common for doctors to prescribe painkillers when treating sports injuries. While these injuries can be very painful, opioid addiction has far greater consequences. Parents will want to consider talking to their child’s doctor about alternative pain-relieving practices to help their teens feel comfortable as they recuperate. Parents will also want to caution other relatives about keeping their painkillers in places where teens can find them. If your teen is showing signs of opioid addiction, Clearfork Academy is here to help. We have a long track record of success in treating drug abuse and addiction in teenage boys and girls. We offer a range of treatment interventions and therapies to help individualize our care. To learn more about the treatment programs that we offer, call us today at (817) 259-2597.

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