A Dose of Reality

More than half of people who abuse prescription painkillers get them through friends or relatives. Nearly 80% of heroin users previously abused prescription painkillers. Parents should discuss with their children the risks of misusing prescription painkillers and be familiar with the warning signs of misuse or abuse.

Warning Signs of Misuse or Abuse

Many normal-seeming adolescent behaviors can sometimes be signs of a drug-related problem. Parents should be on the lookout for warning signs of misuse or abuse such as:

  • Missing prescription drugs
  • Increased secrecy
  • Frequent requests for money
  • New or different friends
  • A loss of interest in favorite activities or hobbies
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Changes in personal hygiene
  • Trouble in school or with the law

What Parents Can Do

  • Bring your child to a medical professional who can screen for signs of drug use and other related health issues.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal, which include:
    • Diarrhea and abdominal pain
    • Large pupils
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Chills
    • Mood swings and agitation
    • Yawning
    • Body aches
  • Learn more about addiction, treatment, and recovery (see Resources).