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Dangers Of Prescription Painkillers: Putting Your Teens At Risk

If you’ve been treated for pain in the last several years, chances are you were prescribed an opioid-based drugs. And if you happen to have some of those pills left over in your medicine cabinet, you are inadvertently putting your teenager at risk for addiction, says Dr. Stephen Sroka, an adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, Adolescent Health Division.

In this series of three videos, Dr. Sroka explains why parents would do well to keep their teenagers away from prescription painkillers. And you should dispose of old pills.

Video #1: Ask Your Doctor for Non-Opiate Painkillers

Transcript: When your kids are in sports and they get injury, many times you will find physicians will prescribe an opiate pill. We really strongly suggest that you sit down with your physician and see if there’s a non-opiate way to deal with it. Because we know one out of four people that take it are going to get addicted.

It doesn’t matter who they are. They didn’t choose the mess up their life with this drug. It just grabs your brain. So it’s very important to talk about other options out there that are not opiate-based.

Just the other day I talked to a parent whose child is in recovery, doesn’t take pills, got an injury and as we talked about before went in to the physician. He said, “I want my my injury taken care but I don’t want an opiate because I’m addicted. The doctor said, “Okay I’m going to give you the script just in case you need it.”

That really bothers us right now. Parents need to be proactive in this area because many physicians have not realized the whole spectrum of addiction. So parents have to step up be the advocate for their child before something happens.

Video #2: Drugs Are In Your Medicine Chest

Transcript: We have an opiate epidemic going on in this country. If there’s one drug you do not want to play with or experiment with, it is the opiates, including heroin. Many parents ask, “What is an opiate?” If you’ve had major surgery, a tooth pulled out, many doctors in the past have prescribed opiates because they’re the best drug out there to take pain away.

Opiates work very well. It’s an opium-based drug that goes into your brain and blocks the pain receptor cells. It gives you incredible feeling. But also the drug hits the receptor cells that let you breathe. So opiates are a drug that hijack your brain and gives you a great feeling but that also shuts down your body. It’s a killer. What many people don’t realize in this country is that we have more people dying from prescription drugs than a illegal drugs.

So it’s very important parents become aware of this. Now many parents, without thinking about this, will say, “I had that problem one time and in my medicine chest, I have some pills left over in case I ever get sick again.” Well, I can just tell you that much research suggests that many kids’ introduction to opiates is through their parents’ drugs that they got in the bathroom. Not that the parents are giving them to them, but they found the drugs in the bathroom.

What we’re saying to parents right now: Look at your medicine chest. If you have opiates that you need right now, please take them to a drop box or drop them off at a police station. Get them out your house because for many kids that was a conduit for their addiction. Inadvertently the parents were the pushers.

Video #3: Find a Healthy High for Your Teenager

Stephen Sroka, Ph.D., is an adjunct assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and president of Health Education Consultants. He is an internationally recognized adolescent health consultant.

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