Medical Treatment, Internet Are Solutions To Teen Painkiller Misuse

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Teen Painkiller Misuse

A Survey shows that while illicit drug use has declined among teens aged 12 to 17, prescription painkiller abuse continues to rise among young adults. According to these new national statistics, an estimated 6.4 percent of young adults used prescription painkillers for nonmedical purposes in 2006, and in terms of new users, more people 12 years and older -- 2.2 million -- misused opioid painkillers for the first time than any other drug, including marijuana and cocaine.

"SAMHSA's survey quantifies the depth of the public health problem we have in this country with prescription painkiller misuse," said Mark Menestrina, MD, Medical Director of Brighton Hospital Detox Unit, Brighton, MI. "Clearly there is an urgent need for public education, particularly for teens and young adults, about the dangers of experimenting and misusing prescription painkillers. Additionally, it is important for medical professionals to provide those who have become dependent on opioids with all available treatment options, including office-based medical treatment with buprenorphine. Physicians have an obligation to their patients to provide quality care for all types of diseases, including addiction."

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An estimated 5.2 million people aged 12 or older used prescription painkillers for nonmedical purposes in 2006, an increase from 4.7 million in 2005. An additional 1.6 million were classified as being physically dependent on opioid prescription painkillers. The new survey showed that the main source of these drugs was a friend or relative, for free.

"Addiction doesn't discriminate, afflicting people from all walks of life, ages, and gender. Parents, families and friends need to discuss with teens and young adults the ramifications that opioid dependence can have on their lives," continued Dr. Menestrina. "Given the rising prevalence of opioid painkiller misuse demonstrated by SAMHSA's data, I would urge every doctor, especially the family doctors who are on the front line of healthcare delivery, to screen their patients for this chronic brain disease and to become certified to treat those who are opioid dependent with Suboxone(R), an FDA-approved medication that allows treatment in a physician's office. This office-based treatment allows opioid dependence to be medically managed with the same privacy and patient confidentiality that we accord any other serious medical condition."

Suboxone (buprenorphine HCl/naloxone HCl dihydrate) C-III Sublingual Tablets and Subutex (buprenorphine HCl) C-III Sublingual Tablets are the only FDA-approved controlled medicines that can be prescribed by doctors in their offices and with take-home prescriptions, under special legislation. After opioid-dependent patients are initially inducted onto Suboxone(R) or Subutex, the medicine is prescribed in an office-based setting by certified doctors with monthly take-home prescriptions. Treatment with buprenorphine is attractive to many patients because of the privacy and convenience that office-based treatment offers.

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which allows it to be used to treat opioid dependence for two critical reasons: first, it acts on the brain in a way similar to full opioid agonists (prescription opioid painkillers, heroin or methadone) to largely or entirely prevent cravings and withdrawal; and second, because it is a partial opioid agonist, it does not excite the same level of opioid-induced brain activity as full agonists do, and thus does not produce the maximal euphoric effect of a full agonist. Buprenorphine is sold under the brand names Suboxone and Subutex by Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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