Treating Teenage Opiate Use

One of the most controversial and effective opiate treatments for teenagers is Methadone. Rarely chosen as the treatment of choice for teenage drug addiction, yet it is the most effective counteractive drug on the market today.


Opiate painkillers have become a favorite among school-aged individuals. Even more alarming is the ease in which to obtain painkillers in school. Well-known brand names like OxyContin, Percocet, Demerol and Vicodin are just a few narcotic opiate drugs prescribed for treating pain. When snorted, swallowed or smoked, these prescription painkillers create a euphoric effect that has become an attractive illusion to teens.


Treating adolescents is not an easy task. The daily requirements for Methadone, including meetings for methadone maintenance, often conflict with school and parental schedules. Very few drug addiction programs offer Methadone treatment to adolescent substance abusers; however, with the number of teen drug users steadily increasing, the question becomes which treatment effectively stops drug abuse.


Why Teens Choose Opiates?


The most prevalent cause of teen opiate addiction is because the drug is often easy to obtain. Opiates are readily available; over-prescribed by dentist, doctors and therapists. Far too many family medicine cabinets offer an abundant supply of prescribed opiates, and when not in the home, teens are able to purchase individual pills in the school locker rooms.


Signs and Symptoms of Opiate Abuse


We often hear parents say they were unaware their teenager was experimenting with drugs. When parents are able to recognize instances of opiate abuse it will become easier to get expedient adolescent treatment.


  • Marked and uncharacteristic mood swings or apathetic behavior; opiate abuse usually brings about a positive change in a teens mood or activity. Regular use may quickly cause a tolerance to the substance to build up, requiring increasing amounts. As the effect fades, the user will probably begin to suffer some withdrawal symptoms. Keep in mind, marked mood swings in teenagers is not a guarantee they are misusing drugs. It could be a characteristic of hormones.
  • Covering up suspicious behavior by lying or being vague; opiate abusers will often adopt strategies of deception to cover their mistakes and odd behavior. There may be evidence of deteriorating relationships with family, teachers or close friends.
  • Frequent short visits from new or older friends, and short excursions away from home; parents usually notice telephone calls are followed up by a succession of brief visits by unfamiliar people. There may be times when the teen will have to go out suddenly after a phone call.
  • Selling one’s property, with little or nothing to show for it; an obvious telltale sign of drug abuse, especially among teenagers, is the selling of one’s own property. Even items of sentimental value will be disposed of. Items such as gaming consoles, computers, televisions, MP3 devices, stereo equipment and jewelry may be disposed of at a fraction of their true value. This kind of behavior can become extreme to support a long-term drug habit. Another issue is when teens begin to sell household items that parents have purchased, without any remorse.
  • Excessive borrowing of money; once teenagers establish a regular drug habit, funding it may become a real difficulty. This is particularly true if a tolerance level has been reached that necessitates the use of ever-increasing quantities of opiates. Regular users, and particularly young users may never have any spare money despite parental help. Their continuing habit may force them into patterns of excessive begging or borrowing from friends and family members, without the intention of repaying those funds.


Maybe one in twenty adolescents actually wants to go to treatment. Many will swear they can quit at anytime, but most do not want to quit because giving up that euphoric feeling is frightening.


Non-Methadone Programs Fall Short


Most adolescent drug treatment programs are set up for the individual who is ready to give up substance abuse. These programs often operate under the assumption that the teenager has decided that drug-free is better, when in fact; most parents or the juvenile system are making that decision for them.

As it stands, teenagers refuse to enter treatment and for those who do, there is a high rate of relapse. Part of the reason is the coercion to get teenagers into a program. Teens rarely see the benefit of their participation in a drug addiction program.


During the last 10 years, the juvenile justice system referred more adolescents to treatment than by any other source. Courts have increasingly linked drug use and criminal behavior, thereby responding with drug addiction programs. The juvenile justice system now stands on the front line, advocating for more intervention, treatment and continuing care. Although these are all positive reinforcements, juvenile deception and irresponsibility tend to lead to failed opiate drug treatment, especially when parents choose a treatment other than Methadone.


Almost 50 percent of high school seniors have used opiates and with those statistics, parents should choose the most effective treatment option, which is Methadone.