Teens and Opioids in Arizona

opioid_abuseA shocking number of Arizona teens who are prescribed opioids, misuse the pain meds. A new study claims one-in-four teens, ages 14 to 18, used the drugs in ways not recommended by a doctor.

From AzCentral.com:

One in four Arizona teenagers prescribed opioids such as OxyContin or codeine have used the highly addictive pain medications in ways not directed by their doctors….Teens recovering from injuries or operations may be prescribed opioids, so it’s important to give them an education and an understanding of how to properly use these powerful pain-killing drugs.

“The answer is not to stop them (opioids) altogether,” said (Dr. Javier) Cárdenas, director of Barrow’s Concussion and Brain Injury Center. “There is a place for them. We want to make sure we are not putting people in a position to develop a dependency.”

According to KTAR.com, “Most of them (teens) had previously been given the drugs by a doctor. Parents mainly agreed that opioids were an acceptable treatment for teenagers with post-surgery pain.About 18 percent of teenagers said it was acceptable to take more than the recommended amount of opioids if they felt more pain than usual.”

KPNX-TV in Phoenix put together a short video on this issue. You can watch it by clicking here or on the picture below.


Tucson.com added that researchers have launched an opioid-education pilot program for student athletes, coaches and parents at Tempe Union High School District.

(Dr. Javier) Cárdenas (director of Barrow’s Concussion and Brain Injury Center) said the plan is to eventually make the program more widely available to other schools through the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

The program focuses on athletes because they are more likely to be prescribed opioids to recover from orthopedic and other injuries, but Cárdenas said opioid education will be available to other students through health classes.

KJZZ.org quoted Dr. Cardenas as saying, “There is pressure to return to play and pressure to play through pain, therefore they are more likely to take opioids longer than prescribed and at a higher dose than is prescribed. There’s also an increased risk of recreational use of opioid in the athletic population.”

Suspected opioid overdoses in our state have already led to 564 and more than 4,000 overdoses so far this year according to the latest report from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). 

The opioid epidemic in our state is so serious, Governor Doug Ducey declared a statewide health emergency back in June to address the growing number of opioid deaths in our state. 790 Arizonans died from opioid overdoses in 2016 — an average of more than two people per day.

Share your thoughts on this latest report….that 25 percent of our state’s teens are using opioids without a doctors consent. How can we better get the message out about the dangers of these highly addictive drugs? Working together with our partners to find innovative solutions to the health problems facing Arizonans is one more way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!


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