More than 70% of people who abuse prescription opioids get them through friends or relatives. Let’s hope that doesn’t include your children. In recent years, the rate of prescription painkiller overdoses has increased among Georgia’s young people.

If you suspect your child is at risk

When your child starts acting withdrawn, depressed, hostile or fatigued for no apparent reason, you may not suspect at first that anything is wrong. Many of these normal adolescent behaviors can also be signs of a drug-related problem.

However, a parent’s intuition will usually pick up on other signs that could mean your child is at risk:

  • A decline in school performance or attendance
  • A “new” group of friends
  • Changing relationships with family and friends
  • A loss of interest in favorite sports or hobbies
  • A change in eating or sleeping patterns or personal hygiene
  • Trouble with school or the law

What parents can do

  • Learn how to have a conversation with your child about drugs (see Resources).
  • Teens learn by example.  When they see mom, dad, a sibling or grandparent taking a pill – even responsibly – it doesn’t seem so bad.

  • Many teens report that their parents have the greatest influence on their drug use attitudes and decisions.

  • Kids who continue to learn about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who are not taught about these dangers.

  • “DENORMALIZE” THE BEHAVIOR While on-average, 2000 teens use prescription drugs without a doctor’s guidance for the first time, many more DO NOT!

  • DEBUNK COMMON MYTHS:  Rx abuse is just as dangerous as abusing other substances; it can be addictive; and it’s not OK to misuse these drugs even “once in a while.”

  • PROVIDE CLEAR GUIDELINES If you’re a parent, let teens know you will be disappointed if they abuse Rx medications and watch how you use medicines in front of teens.

  • GIVE TEENS ESCAPE ROUTES Teach them how to get out of bad situations; and suggest responses they can use when confronted with potential prescription medicine abuse or misuse:
    • “No, thanks – not into it.”
    • “Not today”
    • “I’m not interested.”
  • Let your child know that you and other loved ones will stand by them and offer support if they need it.
  • Do not supply your child with a steady supply of money if you aren’t certain about where and how it will be spent.
  • Rather than staging an “intervention,” focus on creating incentives to get your child to a doctor.
  • Bring your child to a medical professional who can check for signs of drug use (including drug testing) and other mental health issues.
  • Take away your child’s driving privileges if you suspect drug use to prevent an accident (this can also be used as an incentive to get your child’s agreement to be evaluated by a doctor).
  • Educate yourself about addiction, treatment and recovery (see Resources).