Arizona’s Teen Opioid Epidemic Crisis
There is currently an ongoing teen opioid epidemic crisis occurring in Arizona. According to Dignity Health, one in four teens abuse opioids. Luckily, a state hospital and a task force has decided to take matters into their own hands to do something about the situation.
Dignity Health in Arizona says that 40% of parents are worried that kids will use prescription medication to get high instead of to treat their pain. 25% of teens have used prescription opioids without a doctor’s consent and 18% have felt that it is okay to increase the dose if the pain is greater than usual. As of 2016, there have been 790 deaths as a result of opioid abuse. It is predicted that by 2019, more than a thousand teens will die a year. Dr. Sandra Indermuhle, the director of Dignity Health Chandler Regional Hospital, said she had a teenage boy was in the hospital for taking a handful of pills that were in a bowl at a friend’s party. It is clear that teens are not aware of the dangerous health risks that occur from taking random pills. Next to bullying, sexual assault, and marijuana, only two-thirds of parents have spoken to their kids about opioids.
The complications that come with teens taking opioids is that many of them do have injuries that need pain treatment. An Arizona Bioindustry Association survey said that 39% of parents have allowed their kids to take painkillers after surgery for sports injuries as well as short-term pain. Student athletes are at a greater risk of developing an addiction because of the pressure of performing well for their team to win as well as getting better faster so they can play.
Luckily, the Barry Neurological Institute plans on developing an opioid education program that requires Arizona high school student athletes to pass the program before they play sports. The Dignity Health Chandler Regional Hospital as well as the Chandler/Gilbert Substance Misuse and Treatment Task Force have joined together to make their own education program on the dangers of substance abuse and prevention techniques. They plan to pay close attention when doctors are prescribing medications to teens and to help guide their patients with chronic pain to other resources for pain management instead of believing medications are the only solution. These efforts will bring awareness to opioid abuse as well as prevent those deadly statistics from going higher.