All parents inevitably have to have a talk with their children concerning drugs. As children grow older, they are more likely to encounter different types of drugs through friends and schoolmates, and it’s important that they understand the risks of experimenting with alcohol and other drugs.
The dangers of most illicit drugs are well-known, but many teens don’t recognize the inherent dangers of prescription medications. Since prescription pills are legal, many people across all age default to assuming they are safe.
Starting the Conversation About Prescription Drugs
When it’s time to talk to your teen about the dangers of prescription pills, refer to cold, hard facts to pique their interest and show them that prescription pills can be just as dangerous as illicit drugs, if not more so.
Your teen, like many others, may be operating under the assumption that prescription pills are safer than drugs like cocaine and heroin because there isn’t the same level of social stigma attached to prescription drugs. The takeaway from your conversations should be that prescription pills can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs when misused.
It’s wise to start teaching your children about the dangers of prescription medication at a relatively young age. Even at a preschool age, children can recognize simple warnings. At younger ages, explaining that pills can hurt them is a good way to deter your kids from taking them, but it’s important that your children recognize that medications are safe when taken correctly.
If your child asks about a particular medication in the house, or why you or your spouse or an older sibling takes that medication, explain that pills help their problems, but only when taken correctly. This teaches children at a young age that medication can help, but it can also hurt if the wrong person takes them or takes too much.
Studies on Prescription Pill Dangers
Older children and teens will be able to make better sense of what you have to say, but these age groups are also at the highest level of risk of experimentation leading to substance abuse.
It’s crucial to talk to your teen without appearing accusatory. If your teen believes you do not trust him or her to make good decisions, it will create friction between you.
Being that the nonmedical use of prescription drugs is greatest among the 18 to 25 age bracket, as reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, tell you child you simply want to prepare him or her for the future.
Refer to documented other scientific research and go through the findings with your child to show him or her that assuming prescription drugs are safe is unwise. For example, show your teen the recent findings from the CDC that indicate prescription opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.
You can also show them that accidental overdoses were the leading cause of accidental death in the country in 2015, eclipsing even car accidents.
Make the Danger of Overdose Clear
It’s vital for your child to understand the dangers of taking medications prescribed for others. Prescription pills, especially opioids, may be far more potent than one realizes, and taking a medication prescribed for someone else can have deadly consequences.
Explain why some people enjoy taking drugs and that some drugs can make you feel good, but over time those feelings disappear, and it becomes a cycle of addiction. Kids who experiment with drugs often do so privately or in secret, so make it clear that experimenting with opioid pills alone could be fatal. An opioid overdose is debilitating, and a child who overdoses without anyone nearby to offer help may not survive.
Early Prevention Matters
Having these conversations with your child is more important than you may realize. The opioid crisis that has ravaged the United States for the better part of two decades doesn’t appear to be slowing down. In fact, it appears to be getting worse in some areas of the country.
What many people still fail to realize about this epidemic is that it is not comprised of stereotypical “junkies” or criminals. The opioid crisis has affected people from all walks of life, all social groups, and all demographics in all 50 states.
The team at Elevate Addiction Services understands the devastating toll opioid abuse can have on families, and we believe that early prevention is one of the best methods for curbing the growing numbers of new addiction cases and overdose deaths in the country.
If our younger generations learn the dangers of prescription drugs at an early age, they are less likely to grow up with misconceptions about appropriate drug use, and therefore a little less likely to fall into opioid abuse. If you’d had a conversation like this with a child before, please feel free to share your advice to other readers in the comment section below.