The fastest-growing drug problem in the United States isn’t meth, heroin or cocaine — it’s prescription drugs. Many young people hold the mistaken belief that prescription drugs are less harmful and less addictive than illicit drugs. Sadly, this misconception can lead to heartbreak and years of addiction. If your teenager is popping pills, it’s time to take action before it’s too late. The encouragement and advice of a loving parent are some of the strongest sources for change in your child’s life.
Why Young People Get Addicted to Prescription Drugs
The scary truth is that most teens who misuse prescription drugs find these pills lying around their homes. Whether these drugs are stored in medicine cabinets or laying on kitchen counters, many parents forget about the importance of safeguarding medicine once their child reaches a certain age.
Why teenagers get addicted to prescription drugs varies from person to person. There are a wide variety of reasons your child may be using prescription drugs, including:
- History of abuse or mental illness: Past trauma and mental health issues can be difficult to cope with. Your child may be using prescription drugs to mask the pain of these experiences.
- Academic difficulties: Many teens believe that prescription drugs, like ADHD medications, make effective study aids. If your child is struggling at school, they may misuse prescription drugs to assist their cram sessions.
- Peer pressure: Even if your child knows that using drugs is wrong, their desire to fit in and make friends could overrule their better judgment.
- Thrill-seeking: The adolescent brain is primed for thrills. As a result, some teens and young adults experiment with substances like prescription medications without realizing the potential for addiction.
Painkiller Addiction Signs to Look Out For
Young people have a reputation for being moody, withdrawn and argumentative — particularly to their parents. So, how do you know if your child’s behavior is normal or has crossed a line? Drug addiction typically comes with warning signs. If your teen is addicted to painkillers or another prescription drug, there will be red flags. These signs could include:
- Changes in behavior and mannerisms
- Hanging out with people you don’t know or don’t approve of
- Unnecessary defensiveness when confronted about their behavior
- Withdrawal from family activities or bonding times
- Long hours alone in their room
- Disengaging from you or their siblings
- Repeatedly violating curfew
- Unusual or violent behavior following trivial arguments or simple requests
- Emotional instability
- Skipping classes or exhibiting poor grades
- Noticeable physical changes, such as unexplained and sudden weight loss, weight gain or poor hygiene
How to Deal With a Daughter or Son Struggling With Addiction
Dealing with addiction is heartwrenching, especially if it’s your child who is suffering. You want to protect them from harm, but their choices are putting them at serious risk. Helping your child get addiction treatment, particularly from a center specializing in teenage addiction, is the best way to see them through this hard time.
If all the signs point to a growing prescription drug problem, here are some steps you can take to help your son or daughter overcome their addiction.
- Remove temptations: Safe storage and disposal of medications can reduce your child’s opportunities for easy access. You may also want to remove other substances like alcohol from your home.
- Educate: Addiction is dangerous to anyone. However, if your child is using prescription drugs, the choices they make now can influence the course of their life. During adolescence, the brain is still developing and forming neural pathways. Prescription drug addiction damages the brain’s development. Also, if they continually reinforce addictive behaviors, they could struggle with addiction for years to come. Make sure they understand that their choices have dangerous consequences.
- Talk: Whether it’s a simple conversation or a long heart-to-heart, communication is vital. Your teenager will undoubtedly be hesitant to open up. However, if you approach the talk with love, compassion and no judgment, they may be willing to open up about their struggles and hear your input.
- Counsel: Even if they’re unwilling to talk to you, provide your child with opportunities to discuss their drug use with other trusted adults. You might refer them to a drug addiction counselor, a family friend, a relative or a spiritual leader.
Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction Is Available at Gateway Foundation
You may be scared and confused, but you are not alone. The team at Gateway Foundation specializes in helping people trapped in lives of addiction. We want to help your child break free with a personalized treatment program based on their unique needs. If you would like to learn more, we invite you to contact us today to speak with a compassionate member of our team.