A wave of opioid addiction and overdose is washing across Massachusetts. Improved access to addiction treatment is one good step in stopping it, but when it comes to adolescents, keeping them off opioids to begin with would be better.
While supportive of new treatment-focused legislation, Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Massachusetts State Senator Jennifer Flanagan make a strong case for prevention in an opinion piece on WBUR’s Cognoscenti:
Teens are better off without drugs and alcohol for a multitude of reasons. Teens’ brains are still developing, making them more vulnerable to alcohol and other drugs. Kids who start drinking alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to develop an addiction than those who begin after their 21st birthday. Compared to adults, teens are also more susceptible to the more common tolls of substance use: car crashes and other injuries, sexual assault and suicide, worsening underlying medical conditions and school failure.