It is a harsh reality that our country is being plagued by opiate addiction and abuse. The drugs are in every nook and cranny in every town across the country. No town has been untouched by these little drugs and what starts off as something deemed as harmless to many, can quickly become a deadly habit.
I have personally lived through a crisis of my own by abusing these drugs. They put me in situations that I never dreamed of being in and changed who I was as a person. Millions of people around the world are living with this problem and keeping it a secret from their friends and loved ones. Many live in denial with just how bad their addiction has become and that they will be able to stop at any moment. Many of these people are young adults with their whole lives ahead of them and can not see past their next use. They aren't setting goals for the future, they are just looking for money to get their next high now.
When it comes to educating our young teens and their parents about the dangers of opiates, we must NOT go directly to heroin education. Young people understand that heroin is bad as it has been drilled into the heads of everyone who has television or a radio from a young age. Heroin has always been labeled as a drug to “never try.” The main culprit here is prescription painkillers, which are heroin's cousin. Both heroin and painkillers are opiate based and give the same type of euphoric feeling.
Painkillers are what leads our children to heroin. That is the first step in the opiate issue. We need to teach parents about the dangers of opiate based painkillers. They need to lock up their pills as if they are poison. Most teens get their pills from their own home or relatives. They share the pills with friends and develop a habit. Next thing they know, they are addicted to pills and are too afraid to say anything to their parents. Valuables and money start to go missing from the home as they continue to feed their addiction.
Parents need to be educated on warning signs that prescription pills are being abused. It is a hard thing to catch because most of the signs are being distant, secretive and tired all the time. Most teens act this way normally. If your child is not acting like themselves though and you suspect something, ask them what is going on. Be very open and supportive and let them know that they can always come to you no matter how bad they may think their problems are. Leave that door open for them to cross when they are ready.
If you find any pills in their possession, for example while you are doing laundry, look the pills up online. Each prescription pill in the United States is stamped with a unique code or logo. Take the pill and go to Drugs.com. Click on the tab labeled, “pill identifier.” They will ask you questions about the marks, shape and color of the pill. The results will show pictures and what the pills are. Immediately confront your child if you find it to be something they should not have. Never wait for the “right time” to talk with them about an issue like this. One pill in the wrong hands can end in death and this is a very serious matter.