Does Your Family Know the Risks of Misusing Opioids?

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Opioids: Facts Parents Need to Know Publication Cover

Image by NIDA. 

We recently shared some important facts for teens about opioids. Opioids can be helpful in treating severe pain when they're taken as directed by a doctor. Like all drugs, though, they can also bring risks.

Does your family know the facts about opioids? You can help your parents and other family members learn about the risks associated with opioid use by sharing NIDA’s guide, Opioids: Facts Parents Need To Know.

Here are a few of the facts they’ll find:

  • Misusing opioids can have serious health consequences.
    • When opioids are misused, they can have harmful effects, like slowing down a person’s breathing. Slowed breathing can lead to coma, brain damage, and death.
    • Some studies have shown that misusing opioids repeatedly can also affect people’s behavior and their decisions.
  • Opioids are addictive. 
    • Over time, they can change the brain, which can result in a strong urge to take the drug again and again. If a person then stops taking the drug, they may experience severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Parents can start the conversation about opioids.
    • Everyone in the family should know about the harmful effects that can result from opioid misuse, including effects on the developing brain.

Another important tip for your family:

  • When you finish taking an opioid as prescribed, safely dispose of the unused product.
    • Teens who misuse prescription medicines have reported that they often get those medicines from family and friends. So, it’s important to get rid of expired, unwanted, or unused medicines before they become a problem.

You could even review the information in Opioids: Facts Parents Need To Know or Opioid Facts for Teens together with your parents. Talk about how the whole family can reduce the risks of opioid misuse.

Also, people who have long-term pain could discuss all treatment options with their doctors, including alternatives to opioids.

Learn more: Read the Scholastic lesson, “Opioids: What You Need to Know” (PDF).

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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