Opioids, a family of drugs based on the compounds found in the opium poppy, help to reduce sensations of pain, but when taken for recreational reasons, these powerful medications can generate feelings of pleasure, deep relaxation, or euphoria. Recreational use of these potent medications can lead to respiratory depression, low blood pressure, unconsciousness, and death.
Because of their high potential for abuse and addiction, several of the most commonly prescribed analgesics in the country are classified as Schedule II controlled substances by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Using these drugs for nonmedical reasons is illegal, yet according to the NSDUH Report, 4.5 million Americans aged 12 and older — including many teenagers — abused prescription pain relievers in 2013.
Get answers to commonly asked questions about teen opioid and prescription drug abuse here.