Tips for Talking to Your Kids About the Lethal Dangers of Opioids

Addict looking at prescription bottle

Addiction prevention starts in the home. Furthermore, addiction prevention needs to start younger than most parents probably think, as adolescents are abusing drugs and alcohol at younger and younger ages each year. Parents need to be honest with their kids about drug and alcohol abuse and the various risk factors involved with substance abuse. They need to be sure not to just lecture their kids on these issues, but to rather have constructive conversations on the topic.

Tips for Talking to Kids About Drug Use

Opioids are the number one killer of Americans. Overdoses on opioids were the leading cause of accidental death for Americans in 2015 and 2016. Statistics for 2017 have not been fully tabulated yet. To keep one’s kids, adolescents, teens, and young adult children safe from this growing epidemic, how does one talk to their kids about opioid abuse? Here are some tips:

  • Start the conversation early. Traditional thinking indicates that young people should not be exposed to a conversation regarding such sensitive topics until they are much older. This is flawed thinking because young people are using drugs at earlier and earlier ages each year. Having such conversations as early on as the pre-teen years is recommended by most experts.
  • Discuss the appropriate use of opiates. Kids need to understand from an early age that opiates exist for a reason and that under very specific circumstances, they are quite helpful. It is counterproductive to simply demonize opiates, as this may result in children disbelieving parents when they see opiates used in medical settings. Be honest with kids about the correct, and incorrect, uses of opiates
  • Discuss the risk factors of opiates and why some people get addicted to them. Be straightforward. Parents should not pull any punches when giving their kids the honest truth about opiates. Parents should give their kids the full “dirt” on just how terrible and risky these drugs are, how many people die from them, how easy it is to die from them, how easy it is to develop an addiction to them, etc.
  • Do not instill fear or lecture kids. It is important for kids to be open and honest with their kids about the true risks and other factors involved with drug use. When it comes to opiates, parents need to simply lay out the risk factors with one-hundred percent honesty. There is no need to overdramatize the risks involved because then kids will just disbelieve their parents and the plan will backfire.
  • Encourage back and forth discourse. Parents can foster more understanding and comprehension from their kids when their kids better understand the exact risk factors involved with drug use. Parents need to make sure they are not lecturing their kids. Parents should encourage back and forth discussion with their kids so their kids become more involved in the conversation.
  • Honesty is the best policy. If parents have a history of their own with drug use, they should be completely open and honest about their own substance abuse history, if that is a factor. Kids will find out one way or another if their parent or parents had a history with substance abuse, and it is far better for them to hear it from their parents and in conjunction with a discussion as to why they should abstain.

Talking to one’s kids about drugs and alcohol can be a bit nerve-racking. It is similar to “The Talk.” However, parents do need to have this talk because their kids’ futures could depend on it. Like with anything else in raising children, open discussion and honesty about the topic of opiates is far better than keeping silent on it.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.