Lawmakers want better treatment for opioid-addicted teens

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The age-group hit hardest by opiate addiction, struggles the most to find treatment.

For teens - the first high from a powerful painkiller is even riskier than it is for an adult.

That's because those developing young minds are far more vulnerable to addiction - especially after a second prescription

Dr. Julia Finkel is the lead researcher at Children's National Health System in Washington D.C.

She explained "The disease itself seems to progress much more quickly,"

Data from the American Society of Addiction Medicine shows in 2015, nearly 300,000 people 17 or younger were using pain killers recreationally. More than 120,000 were addicted to those pain killers.

Finkel says those numbers like those are not declining, and the medical system is not well equipped to treat those teens.

She says just one percent of pediatricians are qualified to deliver treatments to ween kids off prescription and hard drugs.

Dr. Finkel said, "I believe this is an emergency. There's enough data so that a wait and see isn't necessary."

Congress is considering creating pilot programs tailored to teens, and better training physicians.

Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich. said, "Professionals in this field need to have every tool that's possibly available."

Peters bipartisan bill would make five million dollars available in grants, a financial starting point which Peters hopes grows.

White House spokespeople wouldn't say though whether this bill will have the President Trump's support

Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said, "Everything we can do to help reduce... reduce deaths and improve public safety is on the table."

For now the proposal remains a long way from becoming law, as it waits for a Senate committee to take a look at it.

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