Establishing an open line of communication with your teen can be challenging. Parents should know the facts when it comes to the deadly opioid epidemic so they’re better prepared to talk with their teens and recognize the signs of opioid misuse.
This guide is designed to help parents know whether their children are at risk, talk to their doctors about prescription options, and seek treatment at the first sign of addiction. Call Rosecrance at (866) 330-8729 for a confidential evaluation for your teen.
1. Prescription opioids are highly addictive.
Opioid painkillers like OxyContin® and Vicodin® are commonly prescribed by nurse practitioners or physicians after surgeries or for chronic conditions. Opioids alter the body’s response to pain. Unfortunately, they can be easy to misuse. In fact, studies have shown that addiction can occur after just 5 days of use (CDC).
Adolescents and young adults who develop an opioid addiction may seek out synthetic opioids such as heroin. Overdoses from prescription and non-prescription opioids kill an average of 130 people a day (CDC).
2. Teens and young adults are at an especially high risk.
Anyone who takes opioids is at risk of developing an addiction. Still, the most common time to develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol is during adolescence or young adulthood. There are many factors that influence someone’s likelihood of substance abuse, but teens are also more impulsive than adults. They may be more likely to seek out a “high” without carefully weighing the consequences.
3. There is a wide range of signs and symptoms.
Teens struggling with opioid abuse may have several unsuccessful attempts to lower their dosage of opioid painkillers. Other behavioral signs of addiction include withdrawal from regular activities and low motivation. You may notice shifts in mood that range from depression and anxiety to states of euphoria.
4. Parents play a role in preventing opioid addiction.
Studies show that doctors are prescribing opioids at a much lower rate than they did years ago (JAMA). Still, parents can play a key role in lowering the risk of misuse. Ask your doctor about alternatives to opioid painkillers, and alert your teen’s doctor of any existing opioid use disorder. You can also help by keeping opioid medications locked up and only dispensing doses as needed.
Another prevention technique is to keep an open and ongoing dialogue with your teen. Encourage teens to share what they know about drug and alcohol addiction, and check in with them on the subject often.
5. Treatment is available.
If your teen is struggling with opioid addiction, there is hope, and help is available from the team at Rosecrance. If you need help getting your teen to treatment, see our ebook, “Getting Past No,” or contact our team.