On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

What can we learn from new research into opioid addiction?

Share story

New research into opioid addiction from the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute and the University of Maryland School of Public Health addresses the issue of doctors over-prescribing drugs.

The report also discusses growing evidence that doctors are still prescribing opioids to patients with a higher risk of abuse at a higher rate than they are to others. 

Dr. Joseph Lee of the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute is an addiction specialist. When he spoke with host Tom Weber about what is often missed in these conversations — a close look at who is most vulnerable to substance abuse.

"Addiction is really about people. As time goes on, there will be other drug epidemics," said Lee.    Lee would like the conversations to shift away from the drugs themselves and focus on the people becoming addicted to the drugs.

Below are some of the takeaways from that discussion.

 To hear the full interview, use the audio player above. 

 Everyone is different. 

Lee's biggest point is this: Everyone reacts differently to substances.

He said even though some traits for substance addiction can be seen as early as 10 years old, there are "plenty of exceptions to the rule."

 Risk taking is a warning sign. 

At a young age children often take risks and push boundaries, but once they learn there are consequences they can correct their behavior.

If a child does not correct their behavior in the face of a consequence, that may be a warning sign for some susceptible to addiction.

 'Birds of a feather flock together.' 

Lee pointed out that situations where children are using drugs aren't like the 1980's after-school special, with peer pressure and a shady character in an alley.

Often if their friends are doing it, they're willing to try it.

"You can't completely protect your child," Lee said, but having an open and honest relationship with them will give you insights into their behaviors that you may be able to correct.