According to new research 14-15 year olds have a higher risk for prescription painkiller abuse than almost any other age group of young individuals, with these teens generally developing a dependence on the drugs within 12 months of starting to abuse them. Study leader and Michigan State University Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics doctoral student Maria A. Parker explained “Many kids start using these drugs other than what’s prescribed because they’re curious to see what it feels like. The point of our study was to estimate the risk of dependency after someone in this age group starts using them beyond the boundaries of a doctor’s orders. It’s important to identify when young people are starting to use these drugs because it allows us to provide prevention or intervention outreach strategies around these ages and much earlier on so things don’t escalate into something worse. No age group is free from risk though.”
The study on prescription painkiller addiction and higher risk used data for the years 2002 through 2013, and this data was the result of surveys and a nationally representative study sample that consisted of 12 year olds through 21 year olds. Many states and countries are battling with an addiction crisis and prescription painkiller addiction epidemics, and understanding when teens start to use these drugs and why is critical to reversing these trends. In many cases those addicted to opioids may turn to heroin when these drugs are no longer accessible, and heroin is another drug that has seen a big increase in use in recent years.