Young people ages 12-25 are a very high-risk group for misusing opioids. While Middle and High School addiction rates thankfully remain low overall in Florida according to the most recent Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey for 2018, there are still too many of our children reporting using prescription drugs without a prescription, or differently than how they were prescribed.
However, it’s not just older children who are at risk. According to a recent study of opioid-related hospitalizations among children, one-third were between the ages of 1 and 5. It’s therefore crucial for parents to lock up their medications and safely dispose of their unwanted prescriptions and medications, including cough syrups, as opioid overdose among children has nearly doubled since 2004.
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When your child starts acting withdrawn, depressed, hostile or fatigued for no apparent reason, you may not suspect at first that anything is wrong because many of these normal adolescent behaviors can also be signs of a drug-related problem.
However, there are other signs that could mean your child is either at risk or has already begun using drugs. Look out for:
- 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 at school or with the law
What Parents Can Do
- Learn to recognize the potential signs of drug impairment and know the proper steps to take if you suspect your child is using drugs. If your child is using opioids, you may want to have in your home or on carry on your person the drug Naloxone, a Food and Drug Administration approved medication designed to reverse an opioid overdose while you wait for emergency medical help to arrive.
- Lock up medications, including cough syrups and safely dispose of unused/unwanted prescriptions.
- Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for more information on how to help your child who may be misusing prescription opioids. This national substance misuse hotline is free, confidential, and available 24/7.
- Learn more about the dangers of misusing prescription opioids and have a conversation with your child about the possible consequences.
- 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 to be evaluated by a doctor).
- Educate yourself about substance use disorder, treatment, and recovery (see Resources).