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Dentists paving the way for prescription drug abuse among teens: study

Oral health is an important aspect of the overall health and visits to dentists are common across all age groups. Almost everyone has at least one tooth extracted by a dentist in his or her lifetime. Visits to dentists mostly sound normal and harmless, however, they may not always be as safe as people generally consider them to be. As per a recent study by  Harvard University, common surgeries, such as tooth extraction procedure, may pave the way for addiction to painkillers prescribed by dentists, especially among teenagers.

The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) stated that dentists are one of the leading prescribers of opioid analgesics, especially for surgical tooth extractions. This has led to the belief that dentists may be unintentionally helping young people become addicted to painkillers. An exposure to such medications at a young age can prove to be deadly.

The researchers involved in the study found that teenagers, aged between 14 and 17 years constituted the highest number of prescription holders for opioid painkillers, followed by young adults between the age group of 18 and 24.

“The reason a lot of people go to the dentist is because they have pain or they undergo a procedure that causes some pain, to which the dentists are responding,” said co-author of the study Dr. Brian Bateman, an associate professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School. “But I believe we have gotten away from thinking about opioids as dangerous medications,” he added.

 Inappropriate use of opioids can lead to serious health implications, including drug addiction

Opioids are prescribed to treat both acute and chronic pain. While these medications have significant positive effects on individuals suffering from severe pain, they possess addictive properties similar to heroin. Thus, an inappropriate use of opioids can lead to serious problems, including drug addiction. Since opioids are prescription drugs, people generally overlook any hazard they might cause and continue abusing them even if they start exhibiting addictive behavior.

Opioid addiction is, probably, the worst drug epidemic in the history of America. Prescription drug abuse is prevalent across all age groups, and, apparently, the problem does not seem to be eradicated anytime soon. A 2015 report by the Harvard Health Publications revealed that every day, nearly 44 people in the U.S. succumb to an overdose of opioid prescription painkillers, which is double the number of causalities caused by heroin.

As a result, the federal government has urged physicians across the country to keep a check on their way of treating pain. To curb the ever-increasing opioid addiction problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had published the first federal guidelines for doctors prescribing opioids, earlier this year.

According to the 2016 report released by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), in 2014, of the 21.5 million people in America aged 12 years or above having a substance use disorder, 1.9 million people experience substance use disorder involving prescription opioid medications.   Moreover, another recent report by the CDC suggested  that 28,647 Americans died from opioid overdoses, including heroin, in 2014.

 Recovery roadmap

 Addiction to any substance is harmful. While it is always advisable that one should stay away from drugs and alcohol, life does not end if someone finds himself addicted to them. There is always a way out to recover from the condition. The first step toward recovery is to realize and admit that one has an addiction problem that needs professional help.

If you or your loved one is addicted to alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs, and is looking for help, contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline for information on drug addiction rehabilitation centers available across the U.S. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 441-4405 or chat online for advice on the best drug rehab centers or best addiction treatment available in your vicinity.

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