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ON Screen –
The impact of the opioid crisis on our communities and families can feel daunting at times. As parents, we’re all wondering what we can do to protect our kids. The good news is that parents DO have power to help prevent our kids from accessing opioids, like prescription pain meds, and reduce the chance of misuse.
Headlines; social media feeds; words pop out from imagery– opioid overdose, death, crisis
Parent figure next to two kids on either side
Why ARE opioids so dangerous for kids? Experts now know that the brain continues to develop until about age 24—and a lot happens between ages 12 and 24, making our brains particularly vulnerable at this time.
Brain – Construction sign
Our brains develop pathways that dictate choices and behaviors. Exposure to a drug at an early age can disrupt these pathways – and increase the risk of addiction in the future.
So what CAN parents do? Remember these three key actions: Ask. Manage. And Talk.
Image of check list – Ask, manage, talk; words checked off as said
Is your child having their wisdom teeth pulled, or another kind of surgery? They may get a prescription pain med for the pain. Ask about alternatives.
Talk to their provider before the surgery about over-the-counter options, like ibuprofen; or combinations of pain relievers, which can be very effective.
Ask (on screen)
Rx pad-fades out
OTC bottle – on pharmacy shelf.
If your child gets injured—maybe while playing sports—their doctor may also recommend a prescription pain med. Ask about other options, such as compression, stretching, elevation and over-the-counter meds, or a combination.
Athlete on crutches/cast
If a prescription is necessary, know the law in Massachusetts: Minors can only be prescribed a 7-day supply of opiates. That’s the limit.
You can also request a partial fill at the pharmacy to limit the amount of pills you bring home.
Pill bottle full; pill bottle half empty (show erasing of half of pills)
Manage any prescriptions that your child receives – they shouldn’t be managing their own. Keep prescriptions somewhere only you can access. And safely get rid of any leftover meds as soon as they aren’t needed. Many communities have drug drop boxes.
Manage (on screen)
Hand on pill bottle
Lock over it
Expiration date on label - emphasis
Talking to your kids about opioids and other drugs is one of the most important things you can do – as early and often as you can. Even though it may not always seem like it, they are listening: Research shows that kids who talked to their parents about prescription pain meds were 42% less likely to misuse them.
Talk (on screen)
*according to the partnership for drug-free kids
Use your power as a parent to ask, manage and talk to your kids - and you’ll help protect them from opioids.
Find out more at Mass.gov/StopAddiction.