Opioids and Adolescent Health: Tip Sheet
This tip sheet provides an overview of the opioid crisis, how it affects youth, and what grantees and other youth-serving organizations can do about adolescent use. It describes how prescription opioids such as oxycodone, fentanyl, and hydrocodone work to relieve pain but can also be misused, possibly leading to addiction and opening the door to use of injection drugs such as heroin. It also covers factors that contribute to opioid misuse and overdose, such as: 1) the consistent growth in the number of opioid prescriptions in the U.S. from 76 million in 1991 to 207 million in 2013; 2) adolescents' perception that prescription drug use is safer than illicit drugs; 3) social and psychological factors including curiosity, peer pressure, self-medication, and alienation; 4) ease of obtaining opioids; and 5) lack of prevention and treatment services for opioid misuse and overdose, particularly for adolescents. Also included are steps health professionals (including adolescent sexual and reproductive health professionals) can take to help reduce the toll of opioid misuse among adolescents, as well as several sources of additional information.