The best thing you can do as a parent amid the current opioid crisis is to talk to your teen about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), kids who learn about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs than those who are not taught about the dangers. And still only 22 percent of teens report discussing abusing prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription with their parents, notes SAMHSA.
What’s perhaps more alarming is that more teenagers die from taking prescription drugs than the use of cocaine and heroin combined. Opioid abuse can come with some devastating neurological and physical consequences, including:
- Slower brain activity
- Irregular heartbeats
- Dangerously high body temperature
- Heart failure
- Lethal seizures
- Risk of mental disorders like depression, anxiety or psychosis
- Speech, vision, or hearing difficulties
- Impaired cognition and motor skills
- Poor emotional regulation
- Inability to maintain relationships
- Poor school work or job performance
- Stunted emotional maturity
Prescription drug abuse also increases emergency room visits and suicide attempts. In 2009, more than 1 million emergency room visits involved the non-medical use of prescription drugs, notes SAMHSA.
More Talking Points on Painkillers
Experts encourage parents to develop an ongoing dialogue with their children and to look for spontaneous, “teachable moments” to lay the groundwork for open, honest communication. Here are a few more tips to help your teen avoid opioid abuse.
- Remind your teen that taking someone else’s prescription or sharing hers with others is illegal. Sixty four percent of teens say they have used prescription painkillers that they got from a friend or family member.
- Encourage your teen to ask you or a doctor about the negative side effects of a prescribed medicine, how to watch for them, and what to do if a negative effect is suspected.
- Ask your family physician to speak to your teen about the importance of proper use of prescription medicines.
- Keep prescription medicines in a secure location, like a lock box, and get rid of old or unused medicine properly.
- Monitor your teen’s use of the Internet, especially for any illegal online purchases.
- Look for ways to get your child involved in sports, hobbies, school clubs, church and other activities that reduce boredom and excess free time.
- Spend time together. Seek out activities that you and your child can do together.
- Give your child lots of positive reinforcement so he has the confidence to stand up against peer pressure.
Christian Drug Addiction Treatment for Adolescents
At Christian Rehab Network, we offer a faith-based rehab for adolescents (ages 13 to 17). Our group and individual therapy, Bible study, pastoral care, and recreational recovery activities give adolescents age-appropriate strategies for coping with issues like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, substance use disorders and social difficulties. To learn more, call 877-310-9545.