Youth and opioids: What parents need to know

(NC) With 21.5 million opioid prescriptions dispensed in 2016, Canada is the second highest per capita consumer of opioids worldwide. Anyone using opioids is at risk of an overdose, including young people that are prescribed opioids for a number of reasons such as dental surgery or sports injuries.

In addition, one in 10 students report taking an opioid without a prescription –higher than the number of students reporting having taken other drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine. Furthermore, a recent study showed that approximately 55 per cent of young people who reported taking someone else’s prescription opioid said they found the drug at home from a parent or sibling.

If you are concerned for your kids or have prescription opioids in the home, here are a few steps you can take to ensure everyone stays safe:

Encourage communication. Have an open, non-judgmental conversation about the risks associated with drug use, and where they can get information and help.

Know what you’ve got. Keep track of the prescription drugs you have at home. Are they where you left them? Are any missing? It’s important that any prescription opioids are carefully monitored and stored in a secure place.

Keep naloxone in your home. Naloxone can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Even if no one in your household has a prescription, your child could still come into contact with opioids. Make sure you’re always prepared by learning the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose and have naloxone on hand so you can react quickly when seconds matter most. Naloxone is available free from your pharmacist in a nasal spray and/or injectable form, depending on where you live.