Muir Wood therapist, David Laing
Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services is a Joint Commission-accredited mental health and substance use disorder treatment provider located in Petaluma, California. We provide integrated evidence-based care including psychiatry, psychotherapy, experiential therapy, wellness services, and milieu therapy for adolescents and teens, and their family members.

Increased Options in Prescription Med Disposal May Decrease Teen Drug Abuse

Teen heroin abuse and addiction are rising across the country—and not just in urban areas. In fact, heroin overdose deaths are becoming more and more of a concern as heroin takes the lives of teens in suburban areas across the country.

How did this trend begin, and why is it becoming an increasing issue? Most experts believe that prescription drug abuse is the trigger for the new epidemic in teen addiction.

The Connection Between Health Insurance and Addiction

It seems counterintuitive, but a direct link may exist between the rates of suburban teen heroin abuse and health insurance among suburban families. Because many families in suburbia have health insurance coverage, they may be more likely to go to the doctor and get medications for acute pain, going home with a painkiller prescription to address the issue. Convenience is key in suburbia, and many doctors overprescribe the pills, offering a 30-day supply when the patient may only be in pain for a week to 10 days. The result is leftover pills that often sit unused in medicine cabinets for months or years. Teens who find these pills may experiment with them, share them with friends, and ultimately develop an opioid dependence that is impossible for them to maintain through continued use of prescription painkillers.

In order to avoid withdrawal symptoms and continue getting high, many teens turn to heroin. It’s cheaper, easier to get since it’s available on the street, and offers a similar high compared to prescription painkillers like OxyContin. Unfortunately, it’s just as dangerous and opens up teen users to a slew of other health problems, especially if they use needles to inject the drug.

Teen Opiate Addiction Treatment

Heroin addiction and abuse are serious issues, as is prescription drug abuse. Teens who “experiment” are not flirting with a harmless substance but instead courting:

  • Death due to overdose
  • Death due to accident under the influence
  • The contraction of STDs due to unprotected sex under the influence
  • The contraction of blood borne diseases like hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS when using needles
  • Lifelong addiction issues
  • Acute and chronic medical problems

The Drug Enforcement Administration is considering creating new laws that require patients to dispose of unused medications in an effort to mitigate the issue, according to the Orlando Sentinel, but if your teen is already struggling with opiate addiction, it’s too little too late. Reach out for help that will help your son create positive change in his life and call Muir Wood today. We can give you the information you need to provide your child with treatment and intervention that will help him to get back on track.