Prescription for parents

How to prevent opioid addiction in your teen.

Father and son hiking

“My teen isn’t an addict.”

“She is a good kid.”

“I can trust him.”

In 2016 alone, the opioid epidemic killed more people than all of the Vietnam War. In 2017, the death toll rose higher still, and continued to grow in 2018. It continues to get worse.1 What’s more? Thousands of the lives lost are those of teens.

For many teens, becoming addicted to opioids isn’t a bad decision made under the influence of peers at a party. It can happen innocently. Perhaps they received a prescription for pain management after wisdom teeth removal. Maybe they got a bottle of medication following surgery to treat a sports injury. This is real treatment for real pain. But, these drugs are addictive, and if recommended dosages are fudged (even just a little), well-behaved and trustworthy teens can become addicted.

What can you do to protect your child?

  • Count the pills regularly
  • Dispense the pills to your child on an as-needed basis
  • Keep track of the medication
  • Don’t let your teen take his or her prescription to school
  • Talk to the doctor—it’s unethical not to treat pain in some way
  • Ask your child’s doctor if there are alternative ways to manage the pain
  • Discuss an appropriate amount of pills to dispense
  • Try keeping the prescription in a secure location

Once the pain is resolved, you want to get rid of the medication. So always dispose of unused, unwanted, or expired pills. This goes for all the prescriptions in your home—not just those that were prescribed to your child. It’s important not to flush them or throw them away. Instead, take them to your local pharmacy, police station, or city office. Find your nearest drop-off location here.

If you have questions about opioid use, for example, "How much is too much?" or, "How do I know if I’m 'abusing' my medication?", talk with a doctor. If you know you need help with your opioid use, call Get Help Now at 800.662.HELP (4357). You can find additional help on the National Drug Take Back Day website.

Interested in health and wellness information? Visit Capital Journal for more articles. 
Interested in drug information? Visit our prescription education section.