Help for Parents

Prescription Drugs

Talking With your Children about Prescription Drugs

The misuse and abuse of prescription drugs has developed into a serious national epidemic. Drug overdose deaths are now the leading cause of injury death in the US. It is more important than ever for families to talk about prescription drugs early and often.

There is greater access to prescription drugs than ever. Two common sources are the medicine cabinet and friends/relatives.

As different age groups require different information, here are some talking points for discussion with children of all ages. You are the biggest influence on whether your child will use alcohol or other drugs. Research shows that children are likely to model their parents’ behavior — both healthy and unhealthy.

Preschoolers

 Tell your child that they should only eat food/candy and take medicine that you or a known caregiver gives to them.

 Tell your child to never put anything in their mouth unless they know what it is.

 Tell your children that they should only take medicine that the doctor has chosen for them. Taking medicine that belongs to someone else can be dangerous. Only adults should handle medications.

 Secure all medication and properly dispose of unused and expired medication to prevent accidental poisoning.

 Explain the importance of taking good care of our bodies — eating right, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep.

5-8 Year Olds

 Remind your child that they should only eat food/candy and take medicine that you or a known caregiver gives to them.

 Tell your child to never put anything in their mouth unless they know what it is.

 Let your child know that just because it is in the family's medicine cabinet doesn't mean that it is safe for them to take. Secure all medication and properly dispose of unused and expired medication to prevent accidental poisoning. Only adults should handle medications.

 Make sure your child knows that they shouldn’t stay in a place that makes them feel uncomfortable.

 Tell your child that medicine is not the only way to make us feel better. Emphasize that rest and healthy food can also help us feel better when we are sick.

9-11 Year Olds

 Explain that although doctors prescribe certain medications, taking these drugs in the wrong way can result in serious illness or death.

 Act out scenes with your child where people offer them drugs. Let them know that they can always use you as the excuse, “No, my mom (dad, grandma, etc.) will kill me if I use drugs.

 Set clear rules and expectations about drugs and how you will enforce the consequences if the rules are broken, as misusing drugs is harmful and unhealthy for them.

 Tell your child what makes them so special and why you want them to be healthy and safe.

12-14 Year Olds

 Make sure your teen knows your rules and expectations about misusing drugs, and how you will enforce the consequences if the rule is broken, as misusing drugs is harmful and unhealthy for them.

 Ask your teen about their beliefs about prescription drug misuse and take the opportunity to dispel myths and share facts. For example, misusing prescription drugs can result in addiction, serious illness or death.

 Get to know your teen’s friends and their families. Ask your teen about any new friends and find out what they like to do. Monitor where they go with friends. Express your concerns about friends that may not be the best influence.

 Discuss your teen’s daily ups and downs.

 Develop a plan so your child knows how to leave from a situation that is uncomfortable or dangerous.

15-17 Year Olds

 Don’t lecture. Reinforce facts and reality driven messages about the harmful consequences of prescription drug misuse, including addiction and death.

 Discuss what using drugs can do to your teen's future. There are legal ramifications of trading or selling prescription drugs. Paint a clear picture about the criminal consequences.

 Use news reports about overdose deaths as discussion openers.

 Compliment teens on the things they do well and for positive choices they make.

 Talk to teens about sources of stress in their lives and healthy ways to manage stress.

 Talk about what they should do if they are concerned about a friend.