Over the last decade, the number of teens and young adults entering opiate addiction rehab has been skyrocketing. Especially in high problem areas such as Massachusetts and other northeastern states, where opiates prescriptions are becoming more popular. One of the biggest reasons why this trend has taken off is because teens are gaining access to medication prescribed to their parents. It has become such a big problem that teens are hosting “pill parties”, where stolen pills are thrown into a bowl to be randomly taken.
As a parent, it should be your responsibility to make sure that your child stays away from these pills. Simply being more careful about the way you handle your medication, or paying closer attention to the signs of opiate abuse, can make all the difference in your child’s future.
The Warning Signs
One of the first warnings that you should notice as a parent is that pills are missing from your medicine cabinet. It might not be necessary to track how many pills you have in each bottle every day, but having a general awareness of how much medication you have should help. It may even be a good idea to go through your medicine cabinet now and get rid of all unnecessary or expired medication.
There are also plenty of physical changes that you may be able to pick up on. If your child seems to always be sick, maybe they are not just more prone to getting the flu. Other warning signs to pick up on are constipation, queasiness and vomiting. If your child has taken enough pills, be cautious of opiate withdrawal symptoms that may occur as well. When not used as prescribed opioids are very hard on the body, so might be able to pick up on abuse from looks alone.
It is also important to track the way your child’s behavioral trends. When teens abuse opiates they tend to become less social and more secretive. Opiate abuse can also make teens feel more lonely, and lose interest in things, even the activities they once enjoyed most. Abusing these drugs can turn teens who were once social butterflies into depressed, isolated individuals.
If You Catch Your Child
The first thing you should do if you catch you child stealing is taking care of your medication. Either lock up or dispose of any excess pills, and be safer about the way you are handling your own medication. There is a reason why you can not but opiate over the counter, they are highly addictive and are only safe when taken under doctor supervision.
No matter how difficult it sounds, it is extremely important to have a fair and honest discussion with your child if you know they are abusing opiates. Tell your child what signs of opiate abuse you have found, explaining how they can negatively impact their development. Let them know that drug abuse can permanently damage their brain moving forward, especially as a teen.
While letting them know about the risks they are taking, it is important to let your child know that you are on their side. Rather than making them feel bad for what they have done, educate them about the opportunities they will have if they get sober.