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Talking to Your Child About the Dangers of Opioid Misuse

Opioid misuse has been an increasingly serious issue throughout our county. It is destroying families and claiming lives far too soon. Everyone from teachers and coaches to parents must do their part in preventing the young and vulnerable in their lives from falling victim to opioid misuse and drug overdose. The best way to do this is to educate children early on about the dangers of opioid misuse. 

Many parents tell themselves that they will never have to worry about their children experimenting with opioid use. Others think that they should wait until their child is older before they start this conversation with them. However, in reality, anyone can be affected by the opioid epidemic no matter how hard their parents tried to shelter them from it. The best thing you can do is to make sure that your child is as prepared as possible. 

At Sage Recovery, we recognize that trying to go about this kind of conversation with your children can be difficult. We can offer guidance for navigating it as effectively as possible. 

Preventing Opioid Misuse: Starting the Conversation Early

Even when a child is young, you can still teach them about the dangers of drug use in a way that they will be able to understand. Just be sure to use language that is appropriate for their age. You can start by teaching them about medication and how it must always be taken as prescribed by a doctor. 

Let them know that there is nothing wrong with taking medication when they are sick or in pain, as long as it is a parent, nurse, doctor, or other trusted adult who is giving it to them. It is also important that they know that they should never take a friend’s or classmate’s medication, even if they offer it to them. Learning these things at a young age will help provide a good educational foundation for them when it comes to drug safety. 

View these efforts not as a one-time discussion but as an ongoing conversation that you will continue with your child as they grow older. As they become more mature, you can go into more detail about what opioids are and how they can be misused. This doesn’t always have to be a big serious conversation. Instead, plan for many casual conversations during carpool or over meals. 

Make sure to also allow them to ask you any questions they may have about opioid misuse. By continuing this conversation over the years, you’ll ensure that such information remains fresh in your child’s mind. 

Preventing Opioid Misuse: Creating an Exit Plan

A lot of young people may think they would never say yes if given the opportunity to do drugs, but you really can’t know how someone may respond until they are actually in that situation. That’s why instead of just hoping they never have to experience this, parents can work with their children to have a plan in place if they do. Part of being prepared is coming up with what is called an exit plan. An exit plan is how they will respond if they find themselves in a situation where drugs are present or if they are being peer pressured to engage in substance use. 

This sort of situation can present itself to kids anywhere and even at the locations where you would least expect it. It can happen in the locker room, at a sleepover with their childhood friend, or at a study session. This is why staying vigilant and planning ahead can make a major difference. 

Speak with your child about who to reach out to and what to say if they are offered drugs. Then make sure to practice this plan with them often so it stays fresh in their memory. 

Preventing Opioid Misuse: Keeping the Conversation Open

One of the most important things that you can do to keep your child safe from this dangerous epidemic is to ensure they know that they can always come to you. Unfortunately, many children don’t ask their parents for help when they find themselves in these situations. In many cases, this is because they are afraid of what the consequences may be. 

Maybe they are afraid that they won’t be allowed to hang out with a certain friend group anymore. On the other hand, maybe they are worried that they will get their friend in trouble if they tell an adult that they’re experimenting with drugs. Let your child know that if they are ever in this sort of situation, they can trust you enough to share it with you. Tell them that you’ll be there to work through it with them. 

At Sage Recovery, we believe that educating young people about the dangers of substance misuse can save lives. Start a conversation with your children today. 

No parent wants to ever have to envision what it would be like if their child was affected by substance misuse. Similarly, no parent wants their children to find themselves in a situation where they are being pressured to do something they don’t want to do. However, one the best ways of protecting them is teaching them how to respond and making sure that they are prepared. If you or someone you know is currently struggling with substance use, our team at Sage Recovery is here to help. Don’t wait. Give us a call at (512) 306-1394 today and a member of our team will answer any questions that you may have about our services.