Mental health disorders & opioid addiction

Mar 29, 2018

Teenagers with mental health troubles are at a greater risk of getting addicted when prescribed opioids. As part of our Mental Health Reporting Initiative WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley talked to an expert about these findings. 

“Higher percentages will become long-term opioid users,” stated Diana Clark, family health specialist for Turnbridge in New Haven, Connecticut.

Turnbridge provides residential programs for young men and women dealing with addiction and mental health disorders. Clark tells WBFO News from studying their residents, nearly 60-percent who enter their program are duly diagnosed

“So if those diagnoses are mental health issues that are painful – which most area – so most of these disorders create a sense of disconnection and isolation in the world and opioid pain medication seems to answer that,” Clark explained.

Clark warns this is a family issue. The family needs to become educated when it comes to preventing early drug use.

“If you’re 13 and you use drugs and alcohol, you’re  47-percent likely to have addiction later or a substance abuse disorder later on. If you wait until the age of 21, which goes down to nine-percent, because the brains are still formulating,” Clark remarked. “It has been said to be over and over again, the first time I did opioids was when I had my wisdom teeth out and I felt much better.

Clark's best advice - the “whole family” needs to be involved and parents, and this might sound difficult for some parents and family members to, but she said it is important to consider not promoting comfort, but growth.

“We have as parents, in this generation, we’ve swung too far in the pendulum of trying to promote comfort and avoiding struggle at all costs.  Our parents and our grandparents knew that struggle was part of life,” Clark declared.