“Feeding the Soul” is usually one of my favorite features in Well-Being. We try to cover topics that are thought provoking, uplifting and inspiring. But sometimes we have to get down to the nitty-gritty. Sometimes we have to protect the body before we can feed the soul.
There are some things in life that we would rather not think about, especially at this time of year when our thoughts are so filled with the holiday spirit, the pleasures of family traditions and time spent with loved ones. The last thing we want to think about is the opioid epidemic. But addiction doesn’t take a holiday.
As parents we all would love to keep our kids in a protective bubble away from every danger that threatens their health and happiness – away from the mean, ugly things, like opioid addiction. But the thing is, hiding from the reality of the opioid crisis won’t make it go away and it won’t protect our children and teens from the danger. Our best line of defense is not a cloak of invisibility or a magic shield, but knowledge. What you know about opioids and the information you arm your kids with can mean the difference between life and death. It’s as plain as that.
Here is what you can do, starting right now.
• Talk to your kids. Tell them about how deadly opioid drugs can be. Children who learn about the risks of drugs at home are less likely to use drugs than those who don’t. Make sure they know sharing opioids is a felony crime punishable with jail time. Surveys show two-thirds of teens who misuse prescription painkillers got them from friends, family members, and
• Safe storage. Keep opioids and other prescription medicine in a secure place. Count and monitor the number of pills you have and lock them up. Ask your friends, family members, and babysitters to do the same.
• Dispose of leftover prescription medication. Return leftover opioid prescriptions to a hospital, doctor’s office, or pharmacy. Many locales now offer “take-back” events to collect unused painkillers. For more information, see Promote Safe Storage and Disposal of Opioids and All Medications.
• Talk to your doctor. Discuss alternatives to opioids for pain relief with your doctor. Many people believe opioids are the best to treat pain, but recent studies show that non-addictive medicines such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be just as effective.
• Ask for help.If you think you or your child may be misusing opioid drugs or developing addiction, don’t hesitate to seek help. Pediatricians can provide medication-assisted treatments to their teen and young adult patients with opioid use disorders or refer them to other providers who can.
• Know what to do in an overdose emergency.Ask your pediatrician about Naloxone, which can prevent opioid overdose deaths. In Mississippi, pharmacists are permitted to dispense Naloxone by request without a prescription. Always call 911 if you believe someone is experiencing an overdose.
Opioid abuse, addiction and overdose are not pleasant topics to consider, no matter what time of year it is. Approaching the subject head on with your kids is uncomfortable and messy, but it is so much better than pretending the danger will just go away. It won’t.