Study shows doctors and dentists continue to prescribe opioids to teens and young adults at high rates


(WAOW) — A new study by the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics claims teens are at high risk of misusing opioids because they are being prescribed at high rates.

It’s a silent killer hidden in most of our medicine cabinets: reports show every 19 minutes, someone dies from an accidental drug overdose.

“It’s very risky to expose them to a drug like (an) opioid, which is a very strong painkiller,” said Melissa Moore, the Drug Free Communities Program Coordinator.

Research shows there were nearly 9,000 pediatric, opioid-related deaths between 1999 and 2016.

Now that doctors and dentists are continuing to prescribe opioids to teens, those numbers may rise.

“We are forced to focus on the problems with adults, where we haven’t been forced to think about it with children,” said Dr. Sylvia Dennison, director of Behavioral Health at Aspirus.

Dr. Dennison said parents need to ask more questions.

“One of them is to ask is it necessary to use this? Is there something that is better and not addictive?” Dr. Dennison said.

Abuse early on could lead to addiction and the use of other drugs. If you have opioids, Marathon County has several dropboxes for unused medicine.

“We collect nearly two tons of medication every year, which is almost 4,000 pounds,” said Moore.

Dr. Dennison said it’s important for parents to closely monitor their child’s opioid use. If they are given painkillers for a few days, make sure they don’t hang on to the rest of them.

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