Unfortunate facts of the world we live in:
During 2014, at least 47,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States.
Also in 2014, opioids were involved in 28,647 deaths, around 61 percent of all drug overdose deaths that year.
The right to know the risk
The facts above are statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s, or CDCs, report on the increase of drug and opioid related deaths. Forms of opioids, which can lead to addiction, are prescribed as medication for teenagers and adults alike. Yet parents may not be aware the substance their child consumes is dangerously addictive.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, covers the dangers of prescription opioids, teenagers face. The possibility of an opioid addiction does not only occur in someone who consumes another’s medication or takes more than the prescribed dose. “People who are prescribed opioids by their doctor for a period of several weeks or more may develop a physical dependence to the drug,” NIDA explains.
The issue for many parents is not understanding all the dangers before a loved one is prescribed the opioid medication by trusted physicians. A recent study reviewed 2,800 adults who had experienced a nonfatal opioid overdose and those who still received prescriptions after the fact. Led by Marc R. Larochelle, M.D., researchers found 91 percent of the patients received the same prescription after the overdose.
If a teen studying abroad or in boarding school is prescribed a type of opioid medication, the parents may not know. When parents learn their child could be taking a Drug Enforcement Agency classification Schedule II drug – which is defined as foremost having a high potential for abuse — they might instead search for alternatives.
Parents simply need the crucial knowledge on the risks with the prescription. Fortunately, a new bill is on the docket; it is designed to help parents intervene before the addiction to prescription opiates occurs in teens– The Parental Notification Act.
Act out, for what?
The Parental Notification Act aims to prevent opioid addiction/substance abuse in teenagers by requiring doctors to inform parents when their child or teenager is prescribed a possibly addictive and harmful medication.
This act will inform parents about the risks a teenager may face while consuming prescription opioids. Some may argue that the bill breaks doctor – patient confidentiality. In reality, this act does not divulge for what the patient was seen, only that the patient was prescribed a Schedule II drug. The privilege is not doctor – prescription confidentiality. This singular knowledge of what was prescribed allows parents to initiate the conversation about addiction in a proactive manner.
In an interview on NJTV News, Andrew Kolodny, M.D., executive director of the Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, explains how repeated use of prescription opioids leads to addiction. “If prescribers and parents and patients understood how addictive opioids are; prescribers would prescribe [with] more caution, and the parents and patients would be better informed,” Kolodny explains.
If passed, this act will help parents address the issues and catch the warning signs of prescription opioid addiction before it takes a teen’s life. In other cases, teenagers may abuse opioids or other substances and build a dependence to the substance, leading to a need for treatment. The Rancho San Diego Sovereign Health facility specializes in personalized treatment for teenagers aged 12 to 17 dealing with mental, behavioral and substance abuse issues. Call our 24/7 helpline for details.
Written by Nick Adams Sovereign Health Group writer