April 2020

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Health Capsule

Opioid Facts for Parents

If you’re a parent, you may wonder how to talk about opioids with your child. By knowing the facts, you can have an open conversation with your child about the risks. You’ll also be better able to spot signs of a problem with opioids. NIH has developed a guide to help you begin the conversation.

Opioids include medications like prescription painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin. They work by blocking pain signals sent from the brain to the body. At the same time, they release large amounts of dopamine—a chemical in the brain that can make the user want to repeat the experience.

Opioids are among the most addictive drugs. Over time, they can lead to brain changes that cause a strong need to take the drug again. These changes explain why some people who are addicted to opioids continue to take them despite negative consequences.

Children and teens are more likely than adults to become addicted to drugs. That’s why it’s important to talk with your child early.

Start by being a good listener. Explain the risks of misusing opioids, including the danger to a developing brain. Set clear expectations for your child about avoiding opioids and other drugs. And work to keep those channels of communication open.

Having this important conver-sation can help kids make better decisions. Learn more.