Many parents don’t realize that their children can get hooked on prescription medications after illness, injury, surgery or other traumatic events. We’re sharing three steps you can take to prevent your kids from abusing prescriptions.

Be Vigilant.

Many kids and teens are not aware of the risks of misusing prescription medicines. They may be aware that prescriptions and even over-the-counter items can be used to get high but not understand the negative consequences for their physical and mental health.

If your child has been prescribed drugs by their doctor, be alert. Store the medicine out of your child’s reach, preferably using a prescription lock box, which many community behavioral health centers can give you for free (ask us how). Always be on hand to give your child their next dose, follow instructions to give them the right dose and watch them take it. Educate yourself and know the signs of prescription abuse.

Know the Signs.

If your child is taking prescription medicine, look for any physical, emotional and mental changes. Some of these changes may be related to the injury, illness or surgery and mean your child needs extra attention and help making sense of their emotions as they’re recovering.

Change in physical appearance, behavior and habits are the first signs of prescription drug abuse. Your child may have bloodshot or glazed eyes or frequently get nosebleeds and a runny nose. They may not be maintaining their personal hygiene. Are they having difficulty staying alert and focused doing typical tasks like chores or homework? Have there been changes in their mood and attitude? Are they suddenly nervous or fidgety? They may have unexplained bruises or wounds. Have there been changes in their appetite? They may have developed new cravings or don’t eat as well as they once did. Has their behavior suddenly become secretive or detached?

Get Support.

If you worry that your child may be dependent on or misusing prescription drugs, counselors and therapists have professional training to support you and your child. You don’t even have to wait until you suspect your child has misused drugs. Counseling and therapy can be part of your child’s recovery.

At Communicare, we have prevention and recovery services for children, adolescents and even college-age individuals. To learn more, click here.

If you or your child have a substance use emergency, please call 911, go to your nearest emergency room or call 1-866-837-7521 to be connected to Communicare’s mobile crisis team, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.