In today’s drug-oriented society, parents face the possibility of losing a child to drug overdose.  That may seem like a harsh statement.  But, the number of overdose deaths in the United States has reached disturbing proportions, and far too many of those deaths are young teenagers. According to the CDC, more than 64,000 people died from drug overdose in 2016.  More than 770 of those were teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19.  Most of these deaths were attributed to illicit and prescription opioids.  Another disturbing statistic shows that drug overdose rates among boys aged 15 to 19 increased by 15 percent in two years.  Among girls in that same age group, the rate increased by 35 percent.  So, what can we do about teen overdose prevention and save lives?

Surveys show that most teens who abused prescription drugs for recreational purposes admitted to getting the drugs from friends or family.  So, parents could play a role in substance abuse prevention in this regard by making sure their medications are unavailable to their young teens. This is only one of many ways a parent can be an advocate for their child’s safety.

Let’s take a look at some of the other things parents can do to empower their teens to avoid addictive substances.

Ways a Parent Can Influence Their Teen to Avoid Drugs

Parenting is a tough job.  Being a nurturer, teacher, protector, provider, and entertainer are just a few of the hats a couple must wear when they have children.  Despite their best efforts though, sometimes their child falls victim to some harm.  This is especially true when it comes to substance abuse.  It seems that even the most idyllic lifestyle can’t keep some teens from crossing the line and becoming addicts.  But, parents still need to try, because their efforts will be rewarded when their child remains drug-free.  Here are some suggestions for doing what you can to prevent losing a child to drugs.

  • Prevention
    • Talk openly and often with your teen about drugs and alcohol.  
    • Listen to what your teen has to say about their day, their problems, etc.
    • Know your child’s friends and their parents.
    • Teach your teen proven techniques for saying “no” to drugs.
  • Be an Example
    • Participate in fun activities with your teen that don’t promote drugs or alcohol.
    • If you drink, do so in moderation and don’t drive while under the influence.  
    • Don’t turn to alcohol or drugs when dealing with stress or trauma.  
    • Avoid movies and programs that glamorize drugs or alcohol.
  • Know the Facts
    • Learn the facts about the side effects and dangers of substance abuse.
    • Use that knowledge to correct any misinformation your child has received about drugs.
    • Talk to your teen about the messages in music and advertising regarding drugs or sex.
    • Don’t assume that it’s okay for your teen to do a little experimenting with substances.
    • Find local prevention and awareness programs and participate in those with your teen.
  • Set Clear Rules
    • Make sure you have a plan to deal with your teen if they drink or use drugs.
    • If you have to enforce the rules, be consistent.  
    • Don’t give in when the child complains or threatens to run away.
    • Having clear boundaries at home helps your teen feel a sense of responsibility that might serve them well when facing peer pressure.

Remember, your kids are like sponges.  They soak up everything they see and hear.  Your actions will send a clear message that speaks louder than words.  Also, your child will not react favorably to criticism and mistrust.  It will be a bit of a balancing act, but you have to ensure your teen that you care about their wellbeing while also warning them about the repercussions if they make bad choices about drugs.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard a parent tries to prevent it, some kids get involved with drugs and become addicts.  This is when parents face one of their worst fears and one of the most significant challenges of their life.  

What to Do for Your Addicted Teenager

If your worst nightmare has come true, you have to make some tough decisions about helping your addicted teen.  It’s important to remember that about two-thirds of addicted teens are struggling with anxiety, ADHD, eating disorders, or depression along with their drug problems.  When you are choosing a treatment program for your loved one, be sure that it is equipped to address the physical, emotional, and mental factors simultaneously.  This means you should seek a program that offers on-site detox followed by rehab.  Detox addresses the physical aspects of the addiction.  Rehab approaches the mental and emotional aspects using a series of skills-building and confidence-boosting activities.  Unless your child undergoes both detox and rehab, their chance of relapse is increased dramatically.

What to Do If Your Child Overdoses

It happens hundreds of times a day all across the United States.  Another teenager overdoses.  Society’s first reaction is to blame the parents.  But, the fact is, this can happen to a young person with their first use of a drug. It has nothing to do with whether the parents failed to act responsibly.  For instance, heroin is highly addictive and lethal and can cause overdose with the first use.  Also, some young people are prone to binge-drinking which can result in alcohol poisoning.  Plus, many younger teens use inhalants to get high, and this substance can cause sudden death with the first use.  Clearly, we must increase our efforts in teen overdose prevention.

So, how does a parent deal with an overdose when it’s their beloved child?  There are no easy answers to that question. If the overdose was not fatal, then some tough decisions must be made about getting professional addiction treatment for the child. As you can expect, there will be trust issues, blame, guilt, shame, anger, and many more emotional upheavals to overcome.  If the overdose is fatal, the parents have a whole different set of emotions to handle.

Parents can be proactive in helping prevent an overdose by knowing the signs of substance abuse and by trusting their gut instincts.  If a child shows the signs, take action right away.  Many parents find that it is beneficial to employ the assistance of a professional interventionist to convince their child to get help.  This approach has saved many teens from an untimely death.  

If you have discovered that your teenager is involved in substance abuse, you need to choose the best treatment program for his or her needs.  We can help you find the program that will get your child back on the right path in life.  Call now and speak with one of our representatives to learn more about teen overdose prevention.  

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db282.htm

 

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