Teens and Opiates: Struggling Students

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Statistics You Should be Aware Of

Teenage drug use is an uncomfortable subject for many. However, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2007: 5.2 million youths ages 12 and older used non medical pain killers within the month prior to being surveyed. For more information on this study please visit www.samhsa.gov/. These statistics demonstrate that we need to educate ourselves on what drug issues teenagers face. We will start by exploring teens and opiates.


What are opiates? There are many different forms of opiates also called opioids including Opium, Codeine, Methadone and Heroin, but this article will be focusing on opiate prescription pain killers such as hydrocodone. When administered by a physician, prescription pain killers work effectively and have low risk of dependence, however, this article focuses on the abuse of prescription pain killers by an increasing number of teenagers today.

Common Nick-Names

It is wise to educate ourselves on the street or slang names of these drugs of abuse. These listed are among the most popular:

  • pills
  • oxys
  • Hillbilly heroin
  • hydros
  • oxycotton

Possible Routes of Administration

  • In tablet or pill form can be taken by mouth (orally)
  • Crushing up the tablet or pills and snorting


It is wise to look at the effects of opiate use. This information may be helpful in identification of someone who may be using as well as topics to discuss with a medical doctor or counselor. Drugs of abuse may increase the chances of the development of a drug induced mental health disorder and an addiction. These effects are a generalized list and should not be held as an absolute.

Possible Effects:

  • Blocking the feeling of pain and causing the user euphoria. The duration and intensity of effects depend on the amount used and the route of administration.
  • Drowsiness and causing pain in the stomach area
  • Withdrawal symptoms that are ‘flu-like’ such as aches, vomiting, chills, and sweating, among other symptoms
  • Due to the nature of “pain killing” opioids can cause physical dependence when abused
  • Overdose leading to coma or death

What to Do

Education regarding information on opiates and effects is a proactive way of preventing use. If you suspect using teens and opiates there is help available. There are self-help groups such as Al-Anon, Alateen and Narcotics Anonymous that are available in your communities. There is also the option of Chemical Dependency Counseling or seeking medical advice from a family practitioner. The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service is available at https://csat.samhsa.gov/ or at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The bottom-line is that there is help available. Teenagers should not face these issues alone.

For more information visit: www.nida.nih.gov/.

This post is part of the series: Teenagers: Drugs of Abuse

Teachers, Counselors or Parents STOP and read this series on teenagers and drugs commonly abused. Educate yourself on these drugs of abuse, short-term and long-term consequences of use and where to turn for help.

  1. Teenagers and Drugs: A Series on Substances
  2. Club Drugs: Teen Drugs of Abuse
  3. Information on Teenage Alcohol Abuse
  4. Effects of Marijuana Use on the Teenage Student
  5. Teens and Opiates: Educate Yourself!