Parents Play an Active Role in Preventing Drug Abuse

Category: Blog

Published: December 20, 2018 by Eric Klinger

Parents Play an Active Role in Preventing Drug Abuse

“Kids just don’t listen!”

If you’re a parent — and especially if you have teenagers — we’re willing to bet you’ve had this thought at least once. It turns out, though, that this just isn’t true. No matter how it might seem when you’re telling them to put down the video game controller, your kids are listening to you.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a strong, open relationship with a parent is one of the most important factors in a child’s development. That means you can have a tremendous influence over them when they’re making crucial decisions in their lives — including whether or not they’ll use drugs.

Parents also need to be aware that prescription drugs, including pain medications, pose a threat that may be even greater than illegal drugs. In part, that’s because young people have relatively easy access to these substances, and they may not fully understand the risks associated with them. It’s up to you as parents to talk to your kids about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs and limiting access to them. Unison Health has a few tips you can use to help prevent your children from abusing prescription drugs.

Parents Can Reduce Access to Prescription Pain Medications

Let’s face it: ankles get sprained. Wrists sometimes get broken. Wisdom teeth need to come out. These are painful experiences, and sometimes pain medications can go a long way toward alleviating that pain. Even so, it’s a good idea to limit the access young people have to opioid-based pain meds.

First of all, when you’re seeking medical attention for your child’s injury, be sure to ask about non-opioid pain relievers. Often there are alternatives that can be just as effective without the addictive side effects. If your doctor feels strongly about prescribing an opioid, get a prescription for as few pills as possible. That way, there’s less chance the child will develop a dependency. Remember — a person can become dependent on opioids after just one week of regular use!

Once the pain has subsided, get rid of any extra pills. Medicines are prescribed according to the specific person being treated, so the dosages will vary greatly. When a person takes pills that weren’t prescribed to them, they are in danger of any number of complications, from allergic reactions to permanent brain damage and even death. There are a number of places throughout the Toledo area where you can drop off extra medications; click here to find a location near you.

Educate Your Children About the Risks of Prescription Pain Medications

When it comes to engaging children in discussions about drug use, parents are encouraged to do so in brief, informal chats rather than in a prolonged lecture. Take time during family dinners or in the car to initiate the conversation, and look for a natural way into broaching the subject — a recent news story, for example, is a good time to remind kids that prescription medicines can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs.

During these conversations, SAMHSA recommends that parents and children come together to establish a set of family rules regarding drugs, and parents should make their expectations clear. It’s also important to come up with strategies children and teens can use when faced with peer pressure, such as texting a code word to a family member. Above all, make sure kids know that as parents, you are going to be there for them.

In the weeks to come, Unison Health will be offering more tips designed to help prevent substance abuse among children and teens. We’ll be talking to some of our own licensed professionals, who’ll share what they’ve learned after years of help people get out from under their addictions. You’ll want to check back here to learn more — and follow us on Facebook for more great information!