LOADING

Type to search

Remembering Michael Jackson: The Dangers of Pain Medication Addiction and Teens

Share

After realizing it marks the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, I felt it important to put out this blog once again to remind parents about the dangers of pain medication addiction and adolescents.  Although it is not necessarily the case that Michael Jackson died from prescription pain medication, it is quite clear it was an addiction he was battling or at least had in the past.

Viewers cannot turn on the television today without a story depicting pop icon Michael Jackson’s anniversary of  his un-timely death.  His death  brought to the forefront of everyone’s mind a reminder of the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. What parents may not realize is although overall teen drug use is down nationwide; prescription drug abuse is on the rise, as one of the fastest growing addictions amongst teenagers today.  Since 1992, the number of teenager’s ages 12 to 17 years old abusing controlled prescription drugs has tripled, and  nearly one in five teens reported that they are able to get prescription drugs such as Vicodin or OxyContin  in one hour.   In fact, nearly all poison deaths in the country are attributed to prescription drugs.   In the last ten years, the number of teens going into treatment for addiction to prescription pain relievers has increased by more than 300 percent.  In fact, most of the clients I see today are struggling with prescription drug abuse, specifically pain medications. Although it is understood heroin is dangerous and that overdoses are common, what parents don’t understand is that narcotic painkillers mimic the same effects of heroin on their bodies and can be just as lethal.  Teens turning away from street drugs and moving towards prescription drugs is rampant and the myth that these drugs are safe because they are legal must be squashed or this trend will continue to grow.

One of the reasons for this trend toward prescription drug increase is that the state of the economy today is causing more teens to not only sell drugs to support their habit, but to also make money.  With the high un-employment rate, many of my clients and young adults are having a very difficult time finding work.  As a result, there is an influx of bored and broke teenagers and young adults on the streets. Dr. Charles Sophy, Medical Director of the LA County Department of children and Family Services says, “In this time of economic stress on families and parents inability to cope, their children, especially adolescents, drift to their own devices.”  Boredom reeks havoc with today’s young adults and teenagers.

Another problem is adolescents and young adults are part of a generation that is used to instant gratification through video games, texts, cell phones, instant messaging, and other technology.  They want what they want and they want it now and are not willing to wait.   The pain they are trying to anesthetize coupled with their lack of impulse control makes the internet and access to controlled substances a viable option for any teen needing a fix.  Sophie agrees, “Adolescent substance abuse is a growing problem and having our adolescents so easily connected to technology, allows easy accessibility.”  With easy internet access, teenagers can buy all the drugs they could ever want with one press of a button.

Additionally, Doctor shopping contributes to the growing trend toward prescription drug seeking.  Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse reports over 40 percent of American Doctors don’t even inquire about their client’s previous prescription drug use or if they have an addiction, and over 30 percent don’t even gather a history of their patient’s previous medical records.  In fact, investigators are presently investigating the records of multiple Doctors who might have prescribed medications to Michael Jackson, which might have contributed to his death.  Joanne Barron, CADC, M.A. and National Outreach Director of Insight Treatment Program for adolescents says, “The availability of these drugs and the widespread use not only helps to make them available to teens, but promotes the false idea that they must not be that bad if doctors are prescribing them.”  The attitudes amongst teens is packed with all sorts of denial that if prescription painkillers are not considered street drugs, and since technically a doctor’s prescription is needed, they are thought to be okay.  “Once use is established, addressing the denial system by the adolescent and at times by the parents becomes a significant treatment focus. It’s not like I am smoking crack or shooting heroin, the pills were prescribed by a doctor……..my mom takes them for back pain  is a rationalization as well as a symptom of the thought process that keeps the adolescent stuck in their abuse,” explains Stephen Mardell, a Marriage and Family therapist who works with Adolescents and their families.

The ease with which a teen can steal prescription drugs right from their parents or grandparents medicine cabinets also contributes to this growing trend. Pain killers are rapidly increasing in the adult population which models acceptability in their teen’s eyes. “While teens recognize certain type of drugs like heroin or cocaine as being dangerous, often they do not recognize the dangers associated with prescription drugs because of their legal status”, says Barron.   Many adults rely on sleep aids, pain medication, and anti-depressants, making these drugs easily accessible to teens wanting to numb out or fit in.     Barron explains, “Parental attitudes trickle down, so that the more adults use prescribed pain killers, the more accepted they become.” Teens report how easy it is to gain access to their parents prescribed medications or even from their friend’s parents.  Dr. David Lewis, MD and Medical Director of Visions Teen Treatment Program in Malibu, California reported on their blog parents should throw out outdated prescriptions and hide current ones, carefully monitoring the amounts.  He continues to say, “Dumping an intensely psychoactive drug into a teenager’s developing brain is like a chemistry experiment and the damage can be devastating.”  Another issue parent’s need to be aware of is pain medication  can be difficult to spot especially with adolescents as many of the symptoms associated with pain medication mimic other  developmentally “on-target” behaviors.   “Some of these behaviors include, defiance, mood swings, irritability, withdrawal from parents, are among many symptoms that could be missed and viewed as age appropriate,” says  Mardell.

Most teens feel immortal and immune to the destructive nature of drug addiction.  Some teens will experiment but many will become dependent and the earlier they start using, the more likely they are to develop a serious addiction.  Due to the rapid development of tolerance, there is a strong possibility that teens will progress to needing larger doses of medicine for the same effect which in turn increases the potential for overdoses and serious medical consequences.  These same teens will also have difficulties with their attempts to get clean and sober and will continue to relapse. Allen Cardoza, President of West Shield Adolescent Services and host of LA Talk radio’s Answers 4 the Family,  attributes the increase in addiction to prescription painkillers in teens to the three A’s: “accessibility, apathy, and acceptance.”  He says emphatically, “These three situations are a recipe for disaster for teens and adults alike because by the time anyone knows there is a problem, most are deep into their addiction both psychologically, as well as chemically.”

Getting high becomes an easy way to hide from uncomfortable feelings such as break-ups, un-popularity, school pressures, and all the other typical teenage woes.  Among 12 to 17 year olds, girls are more likely than boys to have abused prescription drugs such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, and stimulants in the past year. (SAMHSA,2006).  In fact, females will more often mix pain meds with alcohol for a stronger buzz without having to ingest more calories from more alcohol.  This dangerous combination is called a “Diet Cocktail” amongst the Generation RX club scene.  This plays right into today’s teenage girl’s struggles with eating disorders and their need to be a part of what society deems beautiful.  Tara Schroeter, a Marriage and Family Therapist, who facilitiates teen and young women’s groups says,  “Often young girls feel the need to fit in because of the pressures of society and what is considered beautiful, such as being thin.  Often that image is not even truly who they really are.”  Sophie agrees, “Often times these devices are influenced by peers and often times by anyone or anything that will make them feel accepted.”

An article in USA Today exposed another concern called “Pharm Parties.”  This consists of groups of teenagers getting together encouraging each other to take multiple doses of unknown pills. Some professionals who work in the addiction field believe these gatherings have been over exaggerated, however, I have seen numerous teenagers in my own practice reporting on similar events.  Regardless, the mixing of different prescription and illegal drugs can be deadly.  “For teens, the possible lethal affects of mixing alcohol or marijuana with these drugs, the addiction potential and the possibility of overdoes must be addressed,” says Barron.  She believes the community at large must become better educated about the growing trend in misuse of prescription drugs.

There are several warning signs to look for if parents believe their teenager is developing a dangerous addiction to prescription drugs.  They include:

  1. Signs and symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability, agitation, and mood swings.
  2. Low self esteem and an inability to express their feelings openly and honestly.
  3. Social isolation and not feeling like they fit in with their peers.
  4. Lethargy and difficulty sleeping.
  5. Difficulty getting along with authority figures.
  6. An overwhelming sense of responsibility and co-dependency towards others.
  7. Weight loss.

Communication between parents and teens is vital in combating prescription drug addiction.  Parents can take advantage of teachable moments to express the dangers of pain meds.  An example of a teachable moment could be while watching television programs such as “Intervention” or “Celebrity Rehab” which depicts the ravages of drug addiction and what drug addicts have to go through to get clean and sober.  It is often said in professional circles that addiction is a family disease; therefore, including parents in the treatment plan is absolutely necessary to help address family patterns that may cause stress, enable substance use, and damage the parent/child attachment. “My belief is that while the adolescent substance abuse is the overt reason for psychotherapy, family harmony and strong parent/child attachments are also primary therapeutic goals,” insists Mardell.

Other ways parents can prevent drug abuse include:

  1. Keep prescription drugs hidden and out of reach from teenagers.
  2. Adequate parental supervision by knowing who and where their teens are at all times.
  3. Controlling their teenager’s med regimen by monitoring the dosages and refills if they are on other prescription meds.
  4. Keeping teens busy with healthy extracurricular activities.
  5. Explaining the dangerous effects of mixing drugs with alcohol as well as the dangers of mixing prescription meds.
  6. Random drug testing

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach .  She is the author of The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and the Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab on VH1, as well as beind the scenes of Sober House.  Sherry’s expertise has been quoted in Cosmopolitan, New York Daily News, Huffington Post, E-Online, and Elle On line and is an expert blogger on Beliefnet.  She has appeared on Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, Hollywood Confidential, Inside Edition, Fox News in San Diego, and KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

Tags:

You Might also Like

56 Comments

  1. Ward Banta July 5, 2010

    One year after Michael J’s death and i still feel sad.. He was the greatest!

    Reply
  2. CNA Certification July 19, 2010

    I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

    Reply
  3. chanel handbags July 20, 2010

    I’m not certain I totally concur with you on this post. Then again I am definitely open to fresh ideas. May have to feel about it. Useful blog by the way.

    Reply
  4. skull tattoo July 20, 2010

    I cannot believe Michael Jackson has gone. I can’t help listening to his amzing tracks million times

    Reply
  5. I in reality really enjoy this concept, and are actually pondering about this sort of factor for the whilst now (how you can greater leverage personal connections for online dating). The on the net dating area is broken. It’s like impersonal buying, and it’s a space that’s grossly overdue for a tune up that integrates social connections inside a neat and efficient way. Leveraging Facebook to allow families to play matchmaker, makes a ton of sense. If you have time.Please enter my blog swiss army laptop backpack

    Reply
  6. healthy diet plans July 20, 2010

    nice post,thanks for admin!

    Reply
  7. Easy Weight Loss Diets July 20, 2010

    Hi. I wanted to drop you a quick note to express my thanks. I’ve been following your blog for a month or so and have picked up a ton of good information as well as enjoyed the way you’ve structured your site. I am attempting to run my own blog but I think its too general and I want to focus more on smaller topics. Being all things to all people is not all that its cracked up to be.

    Reply
  8. Easy Weight Loss July 20, 2010

    Great post!

    Reply
  9. wizard 101 cheats July 20, 2010

    You…are…my…hero!!! I cant believe something like this exists on the internet! Its so true, so honest, and more than that you dont sound like an idiot! Finally, someone who knows how to talk about a subject without sounding like a kid who didnt get that bike he wanted for Christmas.

    Reply
  10. my superstar smile July 21, 2010

    Great information thanks for getting this out there for people like me to read.

    Reply
  11. romandz July 21, 2010

    it was very interesting to read.
    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

    Reply
  12. colon health July 22, 2010

    Been searching for information just like this thanks for getting it out there.

    Reply
  13. Krystin Dawsey July 23, 2010

    Thanks, your post is much better than crap books about weight lost I bought on amazon.

    Reply
  14. Williams Palms July 24, 2010

    I never thought of it that way, well put!

    Reply
  15. Electric cigarette July 24, 2010

    I desire you never stop! This is one of the best blogs Ive ever read. Youve acquired some mad skill listed here, man. I just hope that you simply dont get rid of your design simply because youre undoubtedly one particular with the coolest bloggers around. Please retain it up due to the fact the world wide web demands someone like you spreading the word.

    Reply
  16. GSX-R750 guy July 24, 2010

    i just wanna thank you for sharing your this info on your site

    Sent via Blackberry

    Reply
  17. John W. Warner July 25, 2010

    Hey!, I was just looking through the internet looking for some information on this and came across your post. I am impressed by the information that you have here. It shows how well you understand this. Bookmarked this page for further reading, will come back for more.

    Reply
  18. 6-APB July 25, 2010

    Hey, its been ages since i last came across your blog after finding it on Bing. Best source of reliable info.

    Reply
  19. Alejandra De La Casino July 25, 2010

    I’m not sure that I understand this. I might actually need some direction.

    Reply
  20. Watch Splice July 25, 2010

    Are you interested to make some invite posts on my blog?

    Reply
  21. chat girl webcams July 26, 2010

    I just search some keywords at Google and then I enter here, I find many information, and now I just want to let you know I really like to read your posts!

    Reply
  22. autoimmune skin July 28, 2010

    sincerely. nation’s health, individuals. purpose. includes. rests with ourselves. determine.

    Reply
  23. male breast reduction July 28, 2010

    Articles wow… it’s very wonderful report.

    Reply
  24. vigrx July 28, 2010

    this site is really great.. nice layout

    Reply
  25. Seo Services July 29, 2010

    Really great informative blog post here and I just wanted to comment & thank you for posting this. I’ve bookmarked youi blog and I’ll be back to read more in the future my friend! Also nice colors on the layout, it’s really easy on the eyes.

    Reply
  26. gynecomastia surgery July 29, 2010

    I’m glad I came across this post. Once in a while, I will do a search for a good blog to explore. I think I discovered one here.

    Reply
  27. mitry July 30, 2010

    it was very interesting to read blog.counselormagazine.com
    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

    Reply
  28. extenze July 30, 2010

    This is a good matter to talk about. Thank you for putting up this blog. I’m certain there are a lot looking for this kind of debate.

    Reply
  29. Tyson Hassin July 30, 2010

    Hey, I am aware this is probably quite strange to hear, but your blog helps me to get through my day, when my coworkers are getting on my nerves every single waking minute! A bunch of my buddies told me about it but I did not find it for quite a while, so a few days ago I was very excited to finally find it! Me, I don’t blog at all because I simply don’t have the time but I do love to read other people’s work. I just had to comment to show my appreciation for your posts and I also wanted to say that many authors don’t get any credit for their craft, credit that is, in my opinion well deserved. Given the topic you might not think this is real and perhaps doubt that anyone could like it so much, but I genuinely want you to carry on with this. It’s fantastic!

    Reply
  30. talkdiets.com July 31, 2010

    Great post. I’ve always been interested in this. Are you active on any blogs or forums? Your name looks familiar.

    Reply
  31. network marketing shayla August 1, 2010

    Ahh wanting to lose weight. One comment I will discuss about that is that it is way easier to keep the weight off then to get back to where you were. Trust me

    Reply
  32. product marketing August 1, 2010

    Really amazing and informative blog post here. I just wanted to comment & thank you for posting this. I’ve bookmarked youi blog and I’ll be back to read more in the future my friend! Also nice colors on the layout, it’s really easy on the eyes.

    Reply
  33. Efrain Alvis August 4, 2010

    cool. i will need suggestions from bloggers like yourself to make my websites right. great info, well constructed.

    Reply
  34. Funny, I was thinking along the same lines. Adam Luis

    Reply
  35. Virtual World August 11, 2010

    I really like this blog, great post keep up the good work. I have bookmarked your site.

    Reply
  36. Kirstin Gretsch August 11, 2010

    Ah! This really is amazing! Thanks for countering severalsome misconceptions I had witnessed about this as of late.

    Reply
  37. replica handbag August 12, 2010

    Hey pretty fine site!! I’ll bookmark your blog and grab the feeds additionally… Connor

    Reply
  38. Mervin Spincic August 12, 2010

    This is one of the most extraordinary blogs Ive examine inside a incredibly prolonged time. The quantity of information in here is amazing, like you practically wrote the book about the subject matter. Your blog site is good for anyone who wishes to understand this subject matter much more. Fantastic stuff; please preserve it up!

    Reply
  39. chanel handbags August 13, 2010

    Such a really good discussion you all have happening. I like the mix of good and correct information together with a few intellectual thoughts. It really is wonderful to be able to finally come across excellent articles where I think I could believe in the text as well as respect the individuals that publish it. With all the web waste nowadays I always value finding some real voices online. Thank you for posting and continue the good work, please!!

    Reply
  40. Dwain Fundis August 13, 2010

    I smoked for decades and quitting tobacco has been harder than you can imagine. I bought the different stopping gadgets however absolutely nothing did the trick. Then I stumbled on the electric cigarettes. The e-cigarette uses a nicotine juice that has just nicotine. Not any cancerous substances at all. They have already fortunetly changed my life.

    Reply
  41. Craigslist autoposter August 13, 2010

    I like what you all have to say. Very straight to the point. All in all great blog 🙂

    Reply
  42. Shauna Busack August 13, 2010

    hi-ya, great article.

    Reply
  43. dentist brooklyn August 14, 2010

    Im going to tell you now, I think im adding you to my favorite writers list. This is such a nice post and really hit the nail on the head for me. Please keep it up. Your readers appreciate you.

    Reply
  44. Shawn Schmier August 14, 2010

    well well well .. someone finally actually put some information up about this.. ABOUT TIME! lol

    Reply
  45. Outdoor Window Shades September 4, 2010

    An exciting concept this. I am one of those folks whom tend to wait for things to mature before taking action but in this case I am mindful that inaction leads to only failures so I will heed your comments and begin to do one thing about it.

    Reply
  46. Fun September 4, 2010

    Nice article,very Nice.

    Reply
  47. Kirby Tabicas September 26, 2010

    good blog – cheers

    Reply
  48. 1080p hdtv September 26, 2010

    OMG I can’t wait till the next season! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  49. Kym Defaber September 26, 2010

    I cannot wait for the next episode!

    Reply
  50. Vickey Nachtrieb September 26, 2010

    I cannot wait for the next episode!

    Reply
  51. Strony dla Doroslych October 29, 2010

    Wonderful post, that everyone should see. I hope this blog was the most similar entries.

    Reply
  52. Catrina Tancredi November 20, 2010

    Excellent points you have made here with this particular posting. I just read it a few times in order to make sure I was reading you appropriately. I value your own position and I will be guaranteed to come back here.

    Reply
  53. Pingback: AJ DISCALA
  54. Pingback: stephanie reed
  55. Thanks for some other great post. The place else may anybody get that type of information in such a perfect means of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the search for such info.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Up