It might not have occurred to you to start a conversation with your child about prescription medications — after all, as a parent, you already have enough on your plate. However, if you regularly keep any prescriptions in your home, especially potentially addictive ones like opioids, explaining the risks associated with these drugs can help save your loved one from experiencing a potentially heartbreaking accident. What are the best ways to teach your child that some medicines can be dangerous?
1. Ask Them What They Know
Asking your child to tell you what they already understand or may have heard about prescription medication can give you a good starting point for your discussion. For example, they may have learned about some drugs in health class at school. In an age-appropriate way, reinforce the point that not all medicines are safe for everyone to take, and that some kinds can have side effects that will make your child sick.
If your family physician has prescribed your child a medicine like Adderall, or you know their classmates use these drugs to control ADHD, remind them that using someone else’s prescription or sharing their medication with others is against the law.
2. Keep an Open Mind — and an Open Door
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that children who learn about the dangers of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t. Encourage your child to talk to you whenever they have questions about prescription drug use and abuse. Cultivate a relationship of trust with your child, so they feel comfortable coming to you anytime and know you’ll listen without judgment.
3. Address the Role of Peer Pressure
Every child wants to make friends and fit in at school, so it’s essential to recognize and acknowledge that your child may feel pressured to experiment with drugs. Think back to when you were their age. Give them real-life examples of times you experienced peer pressure, and explain you understand how overwhelming it can feel. Emphasize that learning to be honest, assertive and stand up for themselves is part of growing up.
Role-play peer pressure situations involving drug use together and discuss it afterward. How did it make them feel? Would they feel OK about saying no to their best friend or a crush they want to impress? Reiterate that it’s going to be a challenge, but it will get easier as their confidence grows.
What Else Can You Do to Keep Your Family Safe?
If you or anyone else in your household uses prescription medications, it’s crucial to understand that these drugs can be dangerous, even when used under a doctor’s supervision. Keep all prescriptions in a secure place — ideally, under lock and key — and dispose of all unused doses immediately. Educate yourself about the warning signs of prescription drug abuse, so you can spot them in yourself, your partner or your child.
Substance abuse disorders involving medications like opioids, benzodiazepines and stimulants are a widespread public health crisis in America. If you suspect your prescription drug use has progressed into a full-fledged addiction, Vista Taos Renewal Center can help you break your self-destructive habits. Contact us today when you’re ready to learn more.