*This post was originally published on August 14, 2018. It has been updated to include new information.
Roughly 2 million Americans misuse prescription opioids, and people between the ages of 12 and 25 make up nearly one-third of that group. While some of these young people are introduced to painkillers via a legitimate prescription, a large portion of them are not. Instead, they are getting access to opioids from friends or relatives. In face, people in this age group are twice as likely to obtain opioids from friends or relatives as from a doctor.
Because there is often no prescription marking the beginning of a young person’s use of opioids, the road to addiction often occurs discreetly. Family and friends of those affected might not see the problem developing for some time.
Opioid misuse is devastating for people of any age group, but it is especially concerning for young adults for several reasons. For one, people who begin using opioids before the age of 18 have a higher risk of addiction, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Additionally, nearly all adults with serious drug and alcohol addictions begin using in their teens or early twenties.
Youth Opioid Overdoses Have Skyrocketed
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveals that opioid overdose deaths among children and adolescents (ages 0-19) in the U.S. have nearly tripled over the past 20 years. Between 1999 and 2016, 8,986 children and adolescents died from prescription and illicit opioid overdoses. During that time period, the mortality rate for pediatric opioid poisonings increased by nearly three times. Of these deaths, 88% were among adolescents ages 15-19 years, and 6.7% were among children under the age of 5. Roughly 80% of the deaths were unintentional, while 5% were attributed to suicide and 2.4% to homicide, with the remainder undetermined. Prescription opioids were responsible for 73% of the deaths, with mortality increasing by 131% from 1999 to 2016. Heroin was implicated in 23.6% of the deaths.
Signs of Opioid Addiction
While it can be difficult to spot opioid addiction in a loved one, especially one you do not see consistently, there are signs to be aware of that can help you recognize the problem. These include:
Dramatic mood changes
Avoidance of family and/or friends
Disinterest in previously enjoyed activities
“Opioid addiction is a crisis affecting far too many young people and their families. If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, do your best to help them get treatment as soon as possible,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.
Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today at (760) 777-7777 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.
DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.
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