SHERIFF KOON'S COLUMN: Risks of Addiction
Lexington, SC - 03/26/2021 (Sheriff Jay Koon) - This week is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. Each year, the week provides opportunities to talk about the science of drug use and addiction among youth. With that in mind, I’d like to share more with you about a topic you’ve probably heard a lot about in the news lately: the opioid crisis.
As parents and grandparents, what do opioids have to do with you?
If your child has had a sports injury, dental work or surgery, it is possible that he or she was prescribed a pain reliever that contained an opioid. Opioids can be very effective at reducing severe pain in the short term, such as after surgery, but they can be very addictive, especially if they are misused or taken without strict supervision.
Children and adolescents are at greater risk than adults of becoming addicted when exposed to drugs. Particularly when used in treating children or adolescents, opioids should only be taken to manage severe pain, when no other pain medicine works, and for the shortest time necessary—and most importantly, only while under the careful watch of a trained health care provider.
In addition to opioids prescribed for treating pain, there are powerful opioids sold on the street and used solely to get high, including heroin and illicit fentanyl. These are also highly addictive. All opioids—particularly when misused to get high, or when used for pain without proper medical supervision—can result in deadly overdoses.
While opioid misuse in teens has been going down, the rate of opioid misuse increases significantly after the age of 18, so it is critical to talk with the teens in your life early and frequently to protect them from experimenting with opioids. Talking to your kids about drugs might not be easy, but it is important.