BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The following information was provided by Be Smart Don’t Start.

Research has shown that adolescents and teens who have been prescribed opioids prior to graduating high school are 33% more likely to misuse prescription opioids beyond high school.

The misuse of opioid pain medication can lead to serious illness or death.

After alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, prescription drugs are the most commonly used/misused substances among those 12 and older.

Young people often misuse prescription opioids for various reason, including curiosity, peer pressure, and wanting to fit in, and they can be easier to obtain than other drugs.

Knowing the signs of teen opioid use is important. Be Smart Don’t Start shared the potential signs of drug use that include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Problems at home or school
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Poor coordination
  • Shallow breathing
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Appetite changes
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Irritability

Talking to your child about drugs can help them make positive choices when faced with drugs and alcohol. Be Smart Don’t Start shared tips for conversations with your child about drugs.

  • Make sure your teen knows your rules and the consequences for breaking those rules. Research shows that kids are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs if their parents have established a pattern of setting clear rules and consequences for breaking those rules.
  • Model healthy behaviors. Make it clear that you disapprove of all alcohol, tobacco, and drug use.
  • Let your teen in on all the things you find wonderful about them. They need to hear a lot of positive comments about their life and who they are as an individual. Positive reinforcement can go a long way in preventing drug use among teens.
  • Show interest in and discuss your child’s daily ups and downs. You’ll earn your child’s trust, learn how to talk to each other, and won’t take your child by surprise when you voice a strong point of view about drugs.
  • Get to know your kid’s friends and their parents and talk with those parents about their approach to supervision and their stance on substance use.
  • Encourage your child to use your home for socializing. You can give them private space, but keep an eye on them.
  • Assure your child they can call you to be picked up whenever needed, no questions asked.
  • Talk about their need for acceptance and to fit in. Explain that real friends will give them space to be themselves and won’t make them do anything they’re uncomfortable with.
  • Don’t just leave your child’s anti-drug education up to their school. Ask your teen what they’ve learned about drugs in school and then build on that with additional topics, such as how and why chemical dependence occurs; the unpredictable nature of dependency and how it varies from person to person; the impact of drug use on maintaining a healthy lifestyle; or positive approaches to stress reduction.

It may be hard to tell whether a person is high or experiencing an overdose. If you aren’t sure, treat it like an overdose – you could save a life.

Here are some tips in the event you are ever in this situation:

  • Call 911 Immediately.
  • Administer Naloxone, if available
  • Try to keep the person awake and breathing.
  • Lay the person on their side to prevent choking.
  • Stay with the person until emergency assistance arrives.

Getting someone with an addiction problem help can be tricky and sometimes difficult. Talking with a healthcare provider is always a good start for seeking addiction help.

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