Most teenagers wallowing inside a wasteland of opioid abuse are not getting pain medications from black market sources. These little pill poppers are obtaining them legally, with a prescription, from their friendly neighborhood physician, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.
Researchers at the University of Michigan studied almost four decades of data pertaining to prescription painkillers. What they found was most of the teens using these types of drugs for recreational purposes had been prescribed opioids at one time or another.
These findings provide some additional backbone to another recent exploration into the opioid crisis, which found that people were more likely to become dependent on pain pills if prescribed more than a three-day supply.
It is unfortunate that the mainstream media often discounts the opioid problem in the United States as one that only affects the adult population. However, hospitalizations for opioid-related incidents in young children and teens have been rapidly increasing over the past two decades. A lot of these kids are simply dipping into a family member’s medicine cabinet, while others do not have to look any further than their family doctor to get a taste of what it’s like under the influence of hardcore pharmaceuticals.
“One consistent finding we observed over the past two decades is that the majority of non-medical users of prescription opioids also have a history of medical use of prescription opioids,” study author Sean McCabe, a research professor at the University of Michigan, told Live Science.
This means doctors all across the nation are planting the seed for the future of junkie America.
Right now, the U.S. consumes 80 percent of the global supply of prescription pain pills, with prescriptions for drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin increasing by more than 130 million between 1991 and 2013. If this trend continues, it is conceivable that these drugs could jeopardize the majority of young minds before they are even legally old enough to go to war or drink a beer.
“Health professionals who prescribe opioid medications to adolescents can play an important role in reducing prescription opioid misuse,” McCabe told Live Science. “We consider any rate of non-medical use of prescription opioids alarming, based on the known adverse consequences associated with this behavior.”
The present situation with teens and opioids is much more severe than the propaganda laden argument that lawmakers often lean on concerning marijuana as a gateway drug. In fact, studies show that youngsters have a greater disposition toward experimenting with hard drugs, like heroin, after gaining some experience with prescription painkillers. By then, it’s often too late for a turnaround.
Even former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who served under President Obama, believes this to be true.
In 2016, she told a group of Kentucky high school students that, “when we talk about heroin addiction, we unusually, as we have mentioned, are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem, and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin.”
“It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids,” she added.
The current administration, however, does not have as much clarity on the issue.
During a recent speech in front of Virginia law enforcement, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rejected the idea of medical marijuana being, at least, a potential solution to the opioid epidemic, despite a number of studies showing it to be a possibility.
“I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana—so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful,” he said. “Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”
The problem is the federal government continues to hinder marijuana research in such a way that makes it next to impossible to produce more concrete data with respect to cannabis as an alternative to opioids.
President Trump has the power to change this right now by initiating the process to have marijuana downgraded under the Controlled Substances Act—giving it more scientific flexibility. As it stands, the federal government still considers cannabis one of the most dangerous drugs in the world, even though the DEA admits, “no death from overdose of marijuana has been reported.”
In 2015, prescription opioids, classified less dangerous than marijuana, killed 33,000 American citizens—a death rate that surpassed motor vehicle accidents and gun-related homicides.