A Dose of Reality
More than 70% of people who abuse prescription painkillers 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 260% among Wisconsin’s young people ages 12-25, and 15% of high school students in Wisconsin reported using prescription drugs without a prescription for nonmedical purposes.
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When your child starts acting withdrawn, depressed, hostile or fatigued for no apparent reason, you may not suspect at first that anything is wrong.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).
- 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).
- Download the Community Outreach Kit for Parents from the Online Ordering Portal
- Techniques for communicating effectively with your child about drugs
- Get information about drugged driving
- Learn about the best treatment principles for adolescents
- Get facts about drug abuse, addiction and treatment
- The government’s Treatment Locator service or 800-662-HELP (4357)
- Find a board-certified physician who specializes in addiction
- Twelve-step programs Narcotics Anonymous and Teen-Anon
Addiction affects people from all walks of life.
Straight Forward: The Truth About Addiction is a WisconsinEye documentary featuring in depth interviews with young Wisconsinites fighting to recover their lives and futures from opioid addictions.