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New Study Links Opioid Abuse With Student Suicides

Addictions can lead to many bad things. And one of the worst repercussions of a dependency is attempting to take your own life. Believe it or not, that trend is more common than you may think and, according to new research, it is one the rise among high school students.


This latest data was shared via CNN, which cited research gathered in The Journal Pediatrics. The most alarming stat to come out of that study (which surveyed 13,000 high schoolers across the U.S.) was that one out of every three students who misuse prescription opioids had attempted suicide at least once.


Natalie Wilkins, a behavioral scientist in the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, co-authored the report and spoke to CNN about the findings.


“There are a number of factors that place youth at risk for misusing prescription opioids,”Wilkins explained. “Developmentally, adolescents’ brains have not yet fully matured which makes them more susceptible to engaging in risky and impulsive behaviors, such as substance use.”


The study went on to compare different levels of depression and the role that an opioid dependency plays on this type of behavior. 33 percent of current users reported that they attempted suicide. Probing further, the researchers found that 19 percent of teens who abused prescriptions in the past had tried to take their lives (versus 6 percent who never misused a medication).


Additionally, the researchers uncovered that minority teens were more prone to developing an opioid dependency. There was also a higher suicide attempt rate for addicted students who identify as LGBTQ.


The CNN article concluded by identifying some telltale signs that a teen you may be close to is abusing prescription opioids. Warning signals include slurred speech, confusion, uncharacteristic mood swings and weight loss (just to name a few). Isolation was another key call out, with study authors believing that personal connections could be the key to lowering addiction and suicide attempt rates.


Wilkins made a point to emphasize this as one of the key takeaways from the study. “It does start with talking to your kid, and it doesn’t even have to just start with, ‘I’m worried about drugs.’ It’s ‘I’m worried about you. Are you OK?'” she concluded. “Teens who feel connected to their families and schools are at lower risk for substance use and suicide. Parents can facilitate connection by communicating honestly and openly about sensitive subjects, and respecting and considering teens’ opinions, thoughts and feelings.”