Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Why Are Teens Abusing Painkillers?

Why are teens seeking out dangerously addictive painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet and abusing these drugs? Is it purely for recreational use, or is there another motivation?

According to a new study out of the University of Michigan and published in The Journal of Pain, it’s not just to get high as many may believe. Researchers found that four out of five teenagers who used opiate painkillers said that they did so in order to find relief from pain.

The Study

Though it’s not common, some teens are prescribed painkillers to treat chronic pain but the study found that about 30 percent of these kids were not taking their medication as directed; their goal in abusing their meds was not to relieve pain but something else—like getting high. About 47 percent of those who abused the pills prescribed to someone else reported similar motivations.

Researchers also found that teenage girls were twice as likely as their male counterparts to have misused painkillers in the year prior to the study but found no gender difference when it came to the motivation for teen abuse of prescription drugs.

There were racial differences too. African American teens were more likely than Caucasian teens to abuse their prescriptions, but about 75 percent of them reported doing so in order to relieve pain and not to get high.

Additionally, teens who were abusing pain medications for recreational purposes were more likely to share those medications with others.

Quick Response Is Key

If you believe your son is abusing prescription painkillers—whether or not he has his own prescription for the addictive drugs—take action sooner rather than later.

  • If your son has his own prescription, speak with his doctor first and find out if there are any other options for treatment.
  • If someone else in the family has an ongoing prescription, put them far out of reach of your teen.
  • If you have extra pills left over from past prescriptions, get rid of them at a safe drop spot (often a pharmacy).
  • Contact a teen drug rehab program to learn more about different levels of treatment and types of treatment services that will be able to help your son move forward from use and abuse of all substances.

Is Muir Wood the Right Place for Your Son?

Contact us today at the phone number listed above to find out more about our unique program for teen boys here at Muir Wood. Let us answer your questions and help your family move closer to healing through treatment.