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Educating Teens About Opiate Based Prescription Painkillers

I speak with thousands of parents each year about the dangers of opiate based painkillers. Most parents want to learn about the dangers of these drugs in order to keep an eye on their children.  Many of the parents I speak with that have children who are addicted to opiates, wished they knew more about the warning signs of opiate abuse before it got out of hand.

Most young teens know that heroin is bad. It is drilled into their heads from a young age in school, television, and movies. Our society understands that heroin can kill and destroy lives, but our society has a relaxed feeling towards prescription painkillers. The similarities between heroin and Oxycodone, which is the main ingredient in Percocet, are nearly identical. They both produce similar feelings in the body and brain.

Teenagers hear that they can get a high off of a painkiller and take a couple of pills from their parents. They know that a couple missing pills will most likely not be noticed and decide to get some for their friends and themselves.  If can be your children sharing with their friends, or your children's friends sharing with your child.  What they feel may be a harmless night of fun, can cause death or create a path to addiction. One of those teens who tries the painkiller may enjoy the way it makes them feel.  They might experiment with higher doses trying to make themselves feel even better.  Their brain will be unable to focus as their addiction builds and what started as a fun night can start the vicious addictive cycle all because they did not know that abusing prescription painkillers is as dangerous as abusing heroin. These same teens would never even think about trying heroin, but our society has a relaxed feeling towards prescription medications. 

Opiate painkillers are easily available to teenagers, and many times are found in their parents medicine cabinet.  Perhaps the parent had a root canal or a sore back and were prescribed these drugs for pain. The teens sees these drugs as less dangerous because their own parents have them and they are prescribed by a doctor.  Unfortunately this does not make the drugs any less harmful, as opiates can be just as deadly when abused. If your children found heroin in your medicine cabinet, they would be very worried. The fact that the feeling towards opiates is not as worrisome is causing a deadly epidemic.

If your child is becoming moody and losing motivation you may want to keep a close eye on them. When abusing painkillers, many abusers start to become anti-social. If you suspect they are acting different, pull them aside and put them in a dimly lit room. Check their eyes to see their pupils.  Opiates cause the pupils to constrict and become pin-like or extremely small. Their pupils should become larger in darker rooms and smaller in brighter rooms. If their pupils are not changing, they may be using opiates.

If you find pills in their possession and want to know what they are, you can go to websites on the internet to identify the pills. Drugs.com has a pill identifier which allows you to describe the pill. Look for an imprint, shape, and color or number and provide the information onto the website. It will then identify the medication along with photographs for comparison. This little tool could end up saving your child's life.

Opiate addiction is everywhere. In every town in every state across the country.  Never think that your child would not get involved with these drugs. Peer pressure is very strong and kids fall victim to it daily. Educate yourself as much as you can and be vigilant in watching their actions.  If you think your child has a problem with opiates or any type of drug, take action.  Do not let your child become another statistic to drugs.


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