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Signs of Painkiller Addiction in Teens

Signs of Painkiller Addiction in TeensWhile there are many types of pills out there that people can become addicted to, the most common among them are opioid painkillers.1 Named after opium poppy plants, opioids are made both directly from the plant as well as chemically. These medications are typically prescribed by doctors to relieve moderate to severe pain and often provide a similar high to some street drugs especially if taken in higher doses.

Some of the most common opioids include:

The misuse of prescription medications like these has rapidly become one of the largest drug abuse problems plaguing America today. And while the biggest issues are affecting adults, younger individuals are gaining access to these meds as well.

If you’re concerned your child may be taking drugs, you’ll need to be able to recognize the signs of painkiller addiction in teens. This will help you know why painkillers are addictive, how to identify symptoms of use, and the next steps to take in the process of getting your teen help.

Why Are Painkillers Addictive?

Opioid abuse in teens typically stems from treatment of pain first and foremost. When a teen is prescribed opioids to manage pain, often from something as simple as wisdom teeth removal, they begin to build a tolerance. As the tolerance is built, the need to take more of the drug begins. As they take more they begin to realize that opioid dependence causes withdrawal symptoms that makes it difficult to stop taking them.

Addiction occurs when this dependence and the fear of withdrawal starts to interfere with everyday life. Often, teens continue taking these pain killers or move on to something like Heroin to prevent the withdrawal symptoms from appearing causing a cycle that is challenging to break.

Symptoms of Painkiller Addiction in Teens

Opioids are made to relieve pain, but drug abuse of these painkillers can end up leading to more pain and other unpleasant symptoms.2 Your teen will show a few clear signs if they are consistently taking painkillers.

Misuse can cause nausea and slowed breathing, coupled with sluggish, slow movements. Teenagers may also seem confused and uncoordinated throughout the day, making it difficult for them to concentrate or focus on tasks. Constant drowsiness is another indicator of a potential painkiller addiction.

Behavior can also be affected by opioid use, which may cause your teen to become disinterested in school or their job. They may even become aggressive and provoke conflicts with friends or family members.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Opioid abuse in teensIdentifying the signs of painkiller addiction in teens is not an easy task as symptoms show differently for everyone. But if you find out that your child is struggling with opioid use, it is recommended that they be taken to a rehab center as part of the detox process.

Withdrawal from a painkiller addiction can be an uncomfortable process with symptoms such as:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Aches and pains
  • Agitation or Restlessness
  • Cold sweats
  • Seizures

Assistance from medical rehab professionals can help ease these symptoms and provide as much comfort as possible.

Research Sources:

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Most Commonly Used Addictive Drugs.
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2018). How to tell if a loved one is abusing opioids.
Last Updated on October 24, 2019
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Gerardo Sison, PharmD
Gerardo Sison is a Florida-licensed pharmacist who has worked in clinical and research settings providing drug education to both healthcare professionals and patients.
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