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Opioid Study: Teenagers Abuse Often Starts at Doctor's Office

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By    |   Tuesday, 21 Mar 2017 07:25 AM

A new opioids study suggests that many teenagers who abuse the drugs started receiving them from a doctor's office.

The study published in the science journal Pediatrics Monday examined trends in adolescent prescription opioid use in the United States from 1976 to 2015, noted LiveScience.com.

That research found a significant connection with teenagers who began using the drug under a doctor's care for medical reasons and then transitioning into abusing the drug after the medical care had been completed.

"One consistent finding we observed over the past two decades is that the majority of nonmedical users of prescription opioids also have a history of medical use of prescription opioids," Sean McCabe, a research professor at the University of Michigan and the study's lead author, told LiveScience.com.

"We consider any rate of nonmedical use of prescription opioids alarming, based on the known adverse consequences associated with this behavior," McCabe continued.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin as well as powerful pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, morphine, fentanyl, among others.

Opioids, which interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain, are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but they are frequently misused because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief.

In 2015, the most recent year of the Pediatrics study, researchers discovered that eight percent of adolescents reported abusing prescription opioids, and the majority of them had been prescribed opioids previously, said LiveScience.

The illegal use of opioids can have deadly consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths involving opioids have quadrupled since 1999. From 2000 to 2015 more than a half million people died from drug overdoses, noted the CDC, with 91 Americans die every day.

McCabe told LiveScience.com that the goal is not to eliminate opioids as a treatment, but improve the management of them.

"The goal is not to reduce prescription opioids at all costs, but to reach a balance between making sure patients are adequately treated with prescription opioids when medically necessary while minimizing the potential for adverse opioid-related consequences," McCabe said. "The current study and other national studies indicate we have more work to do in order to strike the correct balance."

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A new opioids study suggests that many teenagers who abuse the drugs started receiving them from a doctor's office.
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Tuesday, 21 Mar 2017 07:25 AM
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