Despite your concerns, however, avoiding candid discussions with your teen could be a major mistake. This is especially true for prescription drugs, which are often glossed over in favor of discussion of hard drugs despite an epidemic of teens abusing pills of all kinds. While many believe their children aren't around drugs or aren’t the type to be lured in by peer pressure, but by the time they realize there’s a problem, it’s often too late.
First, it's important for you to understand just how bad prescription drug abuse has become. One reason people don't understand the magnitude of the problem is that it's a fairly new one. When parents today were teenagers, prescription drugs weren't as widely available as they are today. They were taught about other illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and meth. Those are the drugs parents continue to believe are rampant in schools and on the street. Another mistake is to believe that prescription drugs are less harmful than other illegal drugs. Surely if a doctor can prescribe them, they're not that bad for you, right? Wrong.
According to a study done by drugfree.org, approximately 20% of teenagers who have abused prescription drugs, or taken them when they were not prescribed, were age 14 or younger. This is why having the conversation with your teenagers is so important. There are some other startling facts that came out of this study. For example, 16% of parents and 27% of teens believe prescription drug abuse is safer than abusing illegal drugs. That same 16% of parents were the only ones to talk to their children about how dangerous prescription drug abuse can be.
This study also suggests that teens are twice as likely to abuse pain relievers if they were taught nothing about the possible dangers of drug abuse. Underestimating a prescription drug addiction can lead to serious substance abuse problems and chronic addiction down the road.
While having the talk may be uncomfortable for you and your children, it could potentially save them from abusing prescription drugs or developing a life-threatening addiction that can end in hospitalization or fatal overdose.
Take the time to sit down with your kids and make sure they understand the negative effaects of abusing prescription drugs. Make sure you are educated, as well. Know the facts as well as anyone else so that your teenager has reason to take you seriously.