According to the latest research by the Center for Disease Control, approximately 240 people die from an overdose every day. While many of us picture the affected individuals to be ‘homeless type’ street people, who’ve lost everything to their addiction, the fact is that in 2019, 4,977 people aged 15-24 died of a drug overdose. Of those teens and young adults who died, 672 died from overdosing on prescription opioids. The numbers include many high school and college athletes.
Parents often make the mistake of expecting drugs to affect only ‘other people’s children,’ and many don’t learn the reality until it’s too late. Another mistake is to lecture and shame their kids instead of having a genuine conversation.
Start With Facts and Start Early
Psychologists and doctors recommend making drugs a part of your regular health and safety conversations. Approach the topic the same way you might discuss why seatbelts are important. Why do people use drugs? What can happen if you smoke or drink?
As your child gets older, remember to stay open-minded and judgment-free. The goal is to make your child feel comfortable coming to you for help. Statistically, they are likely to know someone who is experimenting with marijuana, and possibly, opiates. There may come a day when they are with a friend who’s taken an overdose of a drug. There may come a day when they have started to experiment.
If your child needs help, the last thing you want is for them to be afraid to call you for help. Start the conversation now. Keep the conversation going.
My Teen Has Already Started Using
What if your teen has become rebellious and may be experimenting with marijuana, alcohol, or worse – prescription drugs or actual heroin. What you’ve done in the past might not have kept them from getting to this point, but what’s important is that you take the appropriate action now.
Take action immediately and reach out for professional help. While parents are often confounded by the difficult teenage years, drug counselors, interventionists, and the like are well trained in recognizing and interrupting the predictable behavior and arguments troubled teens.
Here are some things to remember if you discover your child has a substance use disorder:
- This is a disease. Treat it as a disease.
- Listen to your child.
- Love your child.
- Use “I” statements instead of “You” statements when discussing your concerns.
Overcoming the Stigma of Substance Addiction
The shame that young people experience when they have become physically and mentally addicted to a substance lead them to secrecy. This can have tragic results. If the young adult understands from his conversations with you that addiction is a natural progression not to be ashamed of but rather to be treated, they will be more likely to reach out for your help. Addiction generally progresses when left untreated, but there is better treatment than ever before available to people of all ages.
Take a positive step today and speak with your child objectively about the reality of drugs in our society, the risks, and how people get help.
About the Author: Scott H. Silverman has been helping families in crisis for almost 40 years. He is the author of The Opioid Epidemic and the founder and CEO of Confidential Recovery.