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Helping My Child With Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics 

Prescription Drugs are designed to be administered by a doctor and taken to heal. However, it’s easy for people, youth especially, to become dependent on prescription drugs and slowly begin to abuse them. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that approximately 10 million children and young people, ages 12 and up, had misused opioids in 2018; the majority of these youth misused prescribed pain killers. When teens are  prescribed pain killers, it’s easy for the teen brain to become reliant on the addictive substance. Studies show that 38.5% of teens get prescription drugs from a friend or family member to whom they are prescribed.  Misuse or abuse of prescription medication begins when youth are consuming the drugs without a prescription from a doctor.

This can be scary and overwhelming for parents, but with education and communication, there is hope to help youth overcome prescription drug abuse. Parents can take comfort in the fact that it is possible to help their child in the journey to recovery. 

According to the NIDA, there are three main types of prescription drugs that are most-abused: Opioids, Stimulants, and Depressants.

  • Opioids are often prescribed for the treatment of pain. Examples of opioids are Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Valium, Morphine, and Percocet.
  • Stimulants are used to treat attention deficit disorders and certain sleep disorders. Examples of stimulants are Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, and Dexedrine.
  • Depressants are prescribed for generalized anxiety and sleep aid. Examples of Depressants are Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, and Ambien. 

For more specifics on the above prescription drugs and their concerning effects, please see NIDA’s Prescription Drug Facts

What Parents Should Look For

When affected by prescription drugs, one may notice some changes in their child. The changes vary, depending on the type of prescription drug, as listed above. If a parent is suspicious and fearful of their child’s changes in behavior, take a breath, and account for these signs below.

  • Opioids: Changes include confusion, poor coordination, drowsiness, slowed breathing rate, feeling euphoric (high), nausea, constipation, clammy skin, hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain), and the increased dose required for pain relief.
  • Stimulants: Changes include increased alertness, euphoria, anxiety, agitation, paranoia, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and reduced appetite.
  • Depressants: Changes include slowed breathing, dizziness, poor concentration, lowered inhibition, memory problems, slurred speech, poor coordination, confusion, and drowsiness.

Citing the changes you see in your child, and asking how you can help, is crucial to initiate a conversation about addiction. Check the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) for more information about prescription drugs, as well as over-the-counter drugs.

How To Broach the Conversation of Prescription Drug Abuse With Your Child

It’s difficult to begin this conversation with your child. One doesn’t want to seem accusatory or damage the relationship. When approaching, try to avoid shaming or blaming your child, and instead approach from a stance that shows love and unconditional support. 

First, actively listen to your child and try to understand why they need the prescription drugs. Some children do it for the euphoria, or because their friends use prescription drugs. Some like to experiment or use prescription drugs to improve concentration. Others abuse prescription drugs as a response to trauma, or an act of rebellion associated with hurt. Understanding the original cause of your child’s use can help in your child’s recovery. Considering their causes can also aid in their mindset-approach to recovery. As you respond to your child’s words, avoid the accusatory tone and continue to try to understand with love and support. Your child should feel safe sharing this information with you, even if it’s hurtful or scary. Take deep breaths, and remember good times with your child as you work to return to them. 

Next, together with your child, you’ll have to determine the best mode of recovery. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to recovery. Each child is unique and their experience in recovery needs to be able to set them up for success in their future. There are resources for parents to help guide and further inform about addiction in the family. Visit the websites of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), and your local hospital’s addiction services. There you can begin the journey to recovery.

        As you work with your child to find a path to recovery, you and your family will need time to heal with accountability and clear goals that provide a safe environment for your child. At RECO Intensive, we understand that your child’s needs are unique, and we’ll work with your child to help them fight their addiction. At RECO Intensive, we believe in personal development, honesty, and accountability as our foundations for growth. We want to help your loved ones through their journey to recovery by meeting your child where they are and giving them the freedom to thrive without prescription drug-dependency. Whatever path they choose in their journey to recovery is completely their own, as RECO Intensive knows your child deserves a personalized approach, and the freedom to express their individuality. RECO Intensive provides specialized therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and relapse prevention as part of our extensive and successful alumni program. RECO Intensive’s alumni support will help your child as they evolve into their new lives in recovery. Call (561) 464-6533 today to learn more.

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