The STEP Blog

The Opioid Epidemic and Adolescents

Ways to Keep Your Child Safe

By: Dr. Christian Thurstone

March 28, 2018

We've all been hearing about the opioid epidemic. According to the CDC, in 2014, there were more drug overdose deaths in the U.S. than ever before. But, how has this epidemic affected adolescents? Adolescents certainly aren't immune. From 1999-2013, drug overdose deaths among 12-25 year olds increased from 3.1 to 7.3 deaths per 100,000 (Source: Trust for America’s Health). Here are some ways to help keep your son or daughter safe.

1. Most teens access pills through friends and family. So, it's important not to share. Ideally, prescription pills should be locked up or hidden. Even if your child knows better, his or her friends might not.

2. Parents should talk with their kids about prescription drugs. Ask them what they already know, and explain the dangers of using them recreationally. Kids are listening to you even if you don't think they are.

3. If you think your child is using substances, get an evaluation sooner than later. Treating addiction is like treating cancer. The earlier you start treatment, the better the outcome.

4. If your child has a problem with opioid use, get trained in how to administer naloxone. Naloxone is a medication that can reverse overdose. In Colorado, it is available under a standing order from the director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment. So, ask your local pharmacist for the medication and instructions in how to administer it.

4. Finally, do what you can to maintain a warm, loving relationship with your child. Ultimately, it's the relationship that will make them want to grow up to be like their parents. So, take the time to listen and hang out with your child and show them you care.