A Quarter Of Arizona Teens Are Illicitly Using Prescription Opioids

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Teens are popping prescription painkillers without the consent of a doctor at an alarming rate in Arizona, which has one of the highest rates of opioid deaths in the nation.

A new survey released by Dignity Health and the Barrow Neurological Institute on Nov. 21 reveals that 25 percent of teens who have been previously prescribed opioids admit to using them illicitly, either recreationally or to self medicate for pain related to sports injuries. Roughly 18 percent of teens surveyed claimed it was fine to take a larger dose of painkillers than prescribed if they feel like their pain is overbearing, reports Arizona Public Media.

A majority of parents in the state said they have spoken to their children about the dangers of opioid addiction, but 40 percent still fear their child will use drugs. There is also concern over the prescribing of opioids to student athletes following a surgery, which have risen over the past decade.

“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,” said Dr. Javier Cardenas, director of the Concussion and Brain Injury Center at Barrow Neurological Institute, according to Arizona Public Media. “There’s also an increased risk of recreational use of opioid in the athletic population.”

Overdose deaths from opioids are claiming scores of lives in Arizona, killing 400 residents since June 15, according to the latest data from state officials.

Officials from the Arizona Department of Health Services recently released the data on drug usage in the state, which reveals there were 3,200 opioid overdoses over the last four months. Factoring in deaths since June 15, Arizonians are dying from opioids at a rate of 100 per month, reports Fox News.

President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” Oct. 26, giving states hit hard by opioid addiction flexibility on how they direct federal resources to combat rising drug deaths.

Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse released Sept. 7 predicts that the addiction epidemic in America will continue to deteriorate, pushing drug deaths to an estimated 71,600 in 2017. If the estimates prove accurate, 2017 will be the second year in a row that drug deaths surpass U.S. casualties from the Vietnam War.

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