How Is Opioid Abuse and Depression Affecting Our Teens?

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How Is Opioid Abuse and Depression Affecting Our Teens?

By: Cumberland Heights

How Is Opioid Abuse and Depression Affecting Our Teens?The opioid crisis has sparked a national conversation on opioid use and the amount of help we’re providing to our communities. Teens are especially at risk for this; the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has emphasized the fact that many adolescents are mixing opioids with other drugs. Of those who do this, a survey found that 58.5% are taking opioids alongside marijuana, 52.1% alongside alcohol, 10.6% along with cocaine, 10.3% with tranquilizers, and 9.5% with amphetamines. About 1 in 8 high school seniors have reported using opioids for non-medical reasons, which places them at an increased risk for abuse and overdose. We can’t always know the effect that certain drugs will have on us and combining them with other substances makes it an even riskier situation.

In 2015, the results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health were assessed. Adolescent reports showed that major depressive episodes are quite common in teens, and this can occur alongside periods of opioid use. For some, the substance abuse occurs unexpectedly – sports injuries, medical conditions and other related issues make chronic pain and real problem, and prescribed opioids are meant to help relieve some of that discomfort. Since they produce such great feelings of relaxation, however, it’s hard not to become hooked to them – and before you know it, your teen is taking their medication in higher doses or more often than they were originally advised.

Teens with depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and sleep disorders were found to be at higher risk for developing opioid dependence, so it’s critical that we start keeping a close eye on our youth. Parents who use opioids may also increase their teens’ chances of using by simply making that type of medication more accessible – even if that was unintended. As the teen brain develops, it’s important they seek help if substance abuse occurs. The quicker help is sought, the more likely they are to mitigate some of the potential risks that abuse can cause to the brain and body.

What else can be done to help prevent opioid abuse in teens? Well, if your teen is taking any kind of medication at all, make sure they attend regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments. Monitor their medication use, and keep an eye out for symptoms of abuse, such as sudden changes in appearance, behavior, eating or sleeping patterns. Adolescents aren’t always able to look out for themselves, and this is where we step in.


Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966, and is located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-844-ARCH-ORG.

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