Students and Young People

A Dose of Reality

In Wisconsin, more people die from prescription painkiller overdoses than all other drugs. But don’t think you and your friends get a pass because you’re young. In recent years, the rate of prescription painkiller overdoses has increased by 260% in Wisconsin among young people ages 12-25.

Are you at risk?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumas experienced in childhood that cause toxic stress in the body. This stress can change brain chemistry, shape educational outcomes, and influence a person’s future health and well-being. It can also make you more susceptible to risky behavior and substance abuse.

In Wisconsin, almost 21.2% of children have experienced at least one ACE, and those who reported five or more ACEs were three times more likely to misuse prescription pain medication.

If you have experienced any of the following ACEs, you may be at risk for opioid abuse:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Physical or emotional neglect
  • Mental illness of a household member
  • Alcoholism or illegal drug use of a household member
  • Divorce or separation of a parent
  • Domestic violence towards a parent
  • Incarceration of a household member

Know yourself and know the signs.

What students and young people can do

  • If someone offers you pills that weren’t prescribed to you, say no. Encourage that person to dispose of them properly.
  • Never offer your own prescription painkillers to someone else. Be sure to lock them up or store them safely, out of reach of others.
  • If you find prescription painkillers at home, leave them alone. Better yet, ask the person whose name is on the label to lock them up or dispose of them if they’re no longer needed or expired.
  • Warn your friends about the dangers of abusing prescription painkillers, including the fact that 4 out of 5 heroin addicts start by abusing painkillers.

Resources for students

Get the facts on the dangers of prescription painkiller abuse.

Take the pledge to steer clear of prescription painkillers.

Find out where there’s a Drug Take Back location near you.

Check out our videos about prescription painkillers.

Download the Patient Brochure and Hospital Fact Sheet to learn more.

Visit Trauma Informed Care Wisconsin to learn more about Adverse Childhood Experiences.


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.