Our country is having a major problem with opioid abuse and addiction. For example, fentanyl is an opioid drug that is leading to numerous overdoses and claiming the lives of many. These drugs are destroying families and leading to massive heartbreak and loss. However, you can play a role in fighting this crisis by protecting your children through education and awareness.
You might feel as if this is not a problem that you will ever have to worry about. Perhaps you might tell yourself that your children know better than to take drugs that have not been prescribed to them. Maybe you believe they would know what to do in the case of peer pressure. But in reality, you just never know what situations your children may find themselves in down the line. The best thing you can do for them is to make sure they are prepared and have all the information necessary to make the right decision.
Understanding the Fentanyl Crisis
To fully understand the gravity of the fentanyl crisis, it is important to look at the statistics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined the number of drug overdoses and drug poisonings in the United States over the course of a 12-month period ending in January 2022. The result was a shocking 107, 375 people. In addition, the CDC says that synthetic opioids like fentanyl played a role in 67% of these deaths.
We clearly have a problem on our hands and it doesn't appear to be getting better over time. A fentanyl overdose can come out of nowhere. An individual may think they are ingesting one substance and not be aware that it is laced with fentanyl. When this happens even just one time, it can lead to a deadly overdose.
Fentanyl addiction can also occur completely unintentionally. This drug can be prescribed perfectly legitimately by a doctor to treat pain. For example, maybe it is given to someone who recently went through some type of surgery or procedure. But as time goes on, they may find they cannot discontinue the use of the drug; they have become dependent on it.
This is why it's important that if your child is prescribed an opioid to treat pain you work with their doctor to create a safe pain management plan. You should also monitor their use of the drug and ensure they are taking it exactly as prescribed. Taking too much or taking the drug too frequently can lead to addiction.
Another situation to consider is if you or another member of your household is prescribed fentanyl for pain and discontinues using it. If there is still some medication left over, make sure that it's disposed of properly so that it will not end up in the hands of a curious child.
Talking to Your Children About Fentanyl
It is never too early to speak with your children about the dangers of fentanyl and other opioid drugs. If your child is still quite young, you can introduce them to the topic early by using simple terminology that they will be able to understand. Explain to them that medication is a good thing when used correctly, but it can be dangerous when misused.
As your child approaches their junior high and middle school years, you can get into more detail. Tell them what fentanyl is and how it is intended to be used. Then tell them about the life-threatening dangers it presents when used incorrectly. This doesn't have to be a big sit-down discussion. It can be done in the car while driving to a sports practice or over dinner. The key is to have it consistently so that the information will be fresh on your child's mind.
Have your child consider a situation in which they are presented with drugs that aren't theirs or peer-pressured into taking them. Help your child come up with a plan for how they are going to get out of that situation. Make sure that your child practices what they are going to say and what they are going to do.
Some parents even come up with code words for their children to use if they find themselves in this sort of situation. This way, the child can simply text their parent the code word, and they can come to their aid as soon as possible.
Most importantly, make sure that your child knows that they can and should always come to you if they are experiencing peer pressure. Same goes if they know of others misusing drugs. Some kids fear that by telling on others, they will get them in trouble. Maybe they think they'll come off as a snitch. However, in reality, reporting this sort of dangerous behavior so that it can be stopped may actually save lives.
All parents want to think that their child knows better than to accept drugs that do not belong to them. But it is impossible to know what can happen in a situation when they are being pressured by others or even bullied into taking drugs. It's for this very reason that it is essential to prepare your children with all the information they need to make a well-informed decision. Don't wait; start talking to your children about the dangers of fentanyl use today. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance misuse, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today to learn more. We will be happy to answer your questions.