The opioid crisis continues to be a major problem throughout the United States, claiming the lives of so many people and breaking apart families as a result. It's not just adults that are being affected – children and teens are at risk too. This is why it is so important that you talk to your children about the dangers of opioids.
Even though it is incredibly scary to think about, it is possible that a time will come in your child's life when they will be exposed to opioids. They will have to make a decision about whether or not they are going to choose to use drugs. You want them to be prepared with all the information so that they can make the right decision.
Why Talk to My Children About the Opioid Crisis?
You might think to yourself that your child is still young enough that you don't yet need to worry about them being exposed to opioids. However, you would be surprised at what ages children are being exposed to drugs today. Drugs such as opioids are infiltrating school systems and are getting out of control. All it would take is for one of your child's classmates to open the family medicine cabinet, see some medication belonging to someone else, and decide to bring them to school and offer them to classmates. You want to believe that your child would make the right decision and say no, but it is easy for curiosity to win over.
Many parents also tend to think things like, “My child is a good kid. They know better than to take medication that does not belong to them.” However, in reality, a lot of “good” kids can and do fall into the depths of substance misuse. You simply don't know what kind of situation could present itself. Your child could be in a situation where they are being bullied or pressured to take a certain substance. They might think that if they give in just one time, they will be proving themselves or putting an end to peer pressure. All it takes is one time for a person to find themselves eventually compelled to take more and more of the drug, leading to a very precarious situation.
Regardless of how young your child is or how well you think you know them, it is crucial that you express to them the true dangers of substance misuse. By properly educating them about opioids, you are essentially offering them the armor they need to help protect themselves during situations that may present themselves in the future.
How Do I Start a Conversation About Opioids With My Kids?
When talking to your children about opioids, it is important to be sure that you are using language that is age-appropriate for them and that they will be able to understand. Remember that you want to inform them, but you don't want to cause them unnecessary fear. You don't necessarily have to have a long, serious sit-down conversation with them, especially if they are still young. You can bring this topic up during casual settings, like when you're riding together in the car or when you're sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office. Then, as the child grows older, you can get into more detail.
You can start by explaining to them what opioids are for and that they can be prescribed to treat pain. Next, let them know that just because a doctor may have prescribed this medication doesn't mean that it can't still cause serious problems, including addiction. This is why it is important that they know they should only ever take medication that a doctor prescribed to them, and they should take it exactly as they were told to do so.
Create an Exit Plan
One important aspect of this topic that you should discuss with them is what is referred to as an exit plan. An exit plan is essentially a plan for what they are going to do if they are ever in a situation where they are offered opioids. This will include what they should do if they are experiencing peer pressure and who they should go to for help. You may choose to give them a certain code word that they can text to you or another safe adult if they are ever in this situation. This exit strategy can be practiced in a safe environment so that they will have it fully memorized if they ever need to do it.
Allow your child to ask any questions they might have about the dangers of opioids and opioid misuse. The more they know, the better prepared they will be. Above all, you want to also make sure that your child knows that they can always come to you for help if they have experienced exposure to opioids.
The opioid crisis has claimed thousands of lives far too soon, and you don't want your child to be a future victim. Substance misuse and addiction is not an easy topic to discuss with your children. It's also not pleasant to even imagine a child being affected by substance misuse at some point. Nevertheless, it is very important to educate them on this topic, so they have all the information they need. If you or someone you know is currently struggling with substance misuse, there is help available. Our team at The Ho Tai Way has helped many women achieve long-term recovery. If you're ready to start, call us at (714) 581-3974 today to learn more.