The opioid epidemic has been making headlines in the United States for several years now.
There have been a growing number of people abusing these drugs, and even worse, people overdosing on them. One estimation found that in 2018 an average of 128 people in the United States died each day from an opioid overdose.1
With such high numbers, government entities and concerned citizens are racing to find solutions. While some people are looking to get addicts into opioid addiction treatment, others are focused on prevention and turning toward the youth.
Why Teaching Children About Opioids Is ImportantLike the old adage says about children being the future, educating the youth on opioids could be a good step in the right direction for combating the opioid crisis. Prevention is one of the key aspects of keeping these numbers from growing, and kids are a good place to start.
Children are a vulnerable group when it comes to drug abuse. Underdeveloped brains, peer pressure, risky tendencies, and curiosity can all play a role in youth drug abuse. Many kids may experiment or abuse drugs without realizing the full consequences of these actions. In the United States, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are the most commonly abused drugs by adolescents, but 20% of 12th graders have reported using prescription medicine without a prescription.2 Because opioids are highly addictive, misusing these drugs can quickly lead to a substance abuse disorder. Without someone intervening, these children who are curious about opioids could eventually become a part of the epidemic and only formal substance abuse treatment will be able to help them quit.
Opioid Education Programming for the YouthFortunately, even in the midst of the opioid crisis, the number of high school seniors misusing prescription opioids has decreased.1 Part of the reason for this decline may be because of the growing efforts for youth opioid education.
After President Trump made the opioid crisis a national public health emergency in 2017, there has been a large push for prevention and opioid education for children. Schools, teachers, counselors, and parents across the United States have taken steps to educate the youth on opioids. The White House even created a school resources guide for staff members on how to teach the youth about substance abuse. The United States Department of Education also awards grants to help state and local agencies with drug education programs.3 Some states have gone a step further. For example, Florida’s new anti-drug campaign largely focuses more on youth education, and Illinois has created a variety of educational resources for students regarding drug education.4
Along with formal opioid education for children, the problems associated with opioids have been brought into the light because of the large amount of media attention that these drugs are receiving. In the past, the dangers of opioids were not as well-known as they are today. Doctors would prescribe these drugs more carelessly, and people would take them without knowing they are addictive. The result was a large influx of people becoming addicted to these drugs before many knew there was a problem. Some children may have seen this addiction with their parents or loved ones firsthand; they may have learned from their mistakes. Hopefully, progress will continue, and the opioid crisis will wane.
At Banyan Heartland, we offer opioid and heroin addiction treatment in Gilman for those 18 and older. If you or your young adult is struggling with an opioid addiction, it is important to ask for help.
Overcoming a substance abuse disorder is no easy task, so we want to help. Reach out to us today at 888-280-4763 to learn more.
- NIH - Opioid Overdose Crisis
- CDC - Teen Substance Use & Risks
- S. Department of Education - Combating the Opioid Crisis and Other Substance Misuse: Schools, Students, Families
- gov - State of Illinois Opioid Action Plan 2017