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How to start the conversation in talking to your teen about drugs

Sarah Pagenkopf, PharmD, BCPS Sarah Pagenkopf, PharmD, BCPS June 22, 2020 0 Comments General Health

As a parent, there are a few conversations that I’m not looking forward to having with my child. A few conversations that I’ll admit, I’m afraid will be more uncomfortable for me than they will be for her. Talking about drug use, smoking and alcohol is one of those conversations. However by knowing more, by reading and learning more and by using some of the great resources available to parents on this topic, it really helped me to be more prepared.

Discovery Education, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency created a Operation Prevention - Parent Toolkit, with an aim of helping parents to get the facts on prescription and illegal drugs. I found this toolkit really helpful as I researched, and I hope you will too.

The easy-to read toolkit is broken down into four short sections:

Section 1: Learn the Facts

Looking at the background on the opioid epidemic, reviewing the science of addiction and then sorting truth from myths.

Section 2: Start the Discussion

Gives some signs of drug abuse in children and teens, and some really great discussion starters too. The best part of this section is the “Refusal Skills.” The goal in this part of the toolkit is to help give your child some skills to help them say “no!”

Section 3: Prevention and Intervention

This section reviews some ways parents, grandparents and caregivers can watch or monitor situations when your child might receive a prescription for pain medication, from a doctor or medical provider for an injury or other painful condition. This section also provides some tips about storing prescriptions in your home and tips to build a strong relationship with your teen – based upon good communication.

Section 4: How Medication Works

This section reviews how medications work. Each of us may have, at some point, used prescription medications. This section reviews how prescription medications, when used as directed, help to treat medical conditions and improve wellness.

This section also reviews lots of things that pharmacists, like me, always want our patients to know:

  • What is vitamin or supplement?
  • What is an over the counter or OTC medication?
  • What makes vitamins/supplements and OTC medications different from prescription medications?

And some great safety tips too!

  • Don’t mix medications.
  • Follow the instruction on your medication bottle, and don’t take more than what is prescribed.
  • Don’t share or give prescription medications to others, and don’t take someone else’s prescription.
  • Discard, dispose and remove medications from your home after you are done using a medication.

Here is a link to all the great places in Jefferson County where you can safely dispose of your medications: Jefferson County Solid Waste/Clean Sweep/Recycling

I hope that you consider reviewing the Operation Prevention - Parent Toolkit for yourself, and that you will be ready for the conversation with your child or grandchild. And, if you ever have questions about your medications, remember your local pharmacist is always ready and willing to help.