Are You Worried That Your Teen Is Using Opioids?

At Westchester Health, we’ve been hearing from a number of our parents who are concerned that their teenagers may be using and/or abusing drugs, particularly opioids—powerful prescription pain killers. The danger, especially for teens, is that opioids quickly and easily become addictive, often leading to overdose and death. Mason Gomberg, MD, one of our Westchester Health Pediatrics pediatricians, has recently written an excellent blog offering parents help, and hope, for this growing problem.

ATTENTION PARENTS: Most teen opiate use is from medicines found in their homes.

This means that parents need to lock up or discard all unused or unneeded pain medications.

Best ways to treat teen opioid addiction

Mason Gomberg, MD

There are many different substance abuse treatment approaches for adolescents, and each approach is designed to address specific aspects of teen drug use. If you and your child decide that treatment is necessary, keep in mind that in order for any intervention to be effective, the clinician providing it needs to be trained and well-supervised to ensure that he or she adheres to treatment protocols.

  1. Behavioral Approaches

Behavioral interventions help adolescents actively participate in their recovery from drug abuse and addiction and strengthen their ability to resist drug use in the future. Treatment options include:

  • Group Therapy
  • Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Contingency Management
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy
  • Twelve-Step Facilitation Therapy
  1. Family-Based Approaches

Family-based approaches to treating teen substance abuse highlight the need to engage the family, including parents, siblings and sometimes peers, in the adolescent’s treatment, including:

  • Brief Strategic Family Therapy
  • Family Behavior Therapy
  • Functional Family Therapy
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy
  • Multisystemic Therapy
  1. Addiction Medications

Several medications have been found to be effective in treating teen addiction to opioids, including Buprenorphine, Methadone and Naltrexone.

  1. Recovery Support Services

To reinforce gains made in treatment and  improve their quality of life, recovering teens may benefit from recovery support services, which include continuing care, mutual help groups (such as 12-step programs), peer recovery support services and recovery high schools. These services include:

  • Assertive Continuing Care
  • Mutual Help Groups
  • Peer Recovery Support Services
  • Recovery High Schools

Resources for more information

If you think your teen may be taking opioids

If you suspect your teen may be using drugs—opioids, other drugs or alcohol—please call (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. We have many years’ experience with teens and drug use, and can help guide you and your teen thought this difficult and sometimes scary time. We want to help you, your teen and your family be healthy and happy in any way we can. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Gomberg’s blog in full, click here.