solutions to opioid crisis
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There is an epidemic in America right now of drug addiction and overdose and it’s most obvious when I look at my children and their friends. I don’t remember drugs really being a big deal in my high school back in the early 90’s, but not only do I have a son who suffered for many years with addiction (he is three years in recovery and I thank God every day) but 3 out of my four children have lost close friends to overdose. It’s crazy how this has touched my family and I can imagine many of you have similar stories. But maybe it hasn’t touched yours yet, or maybe your kids are younger and you are looking for ways that you can help or advice from a mom who has been through it. And boy, have I been through it. Here are some things I wish I had known, and some ways we as parents can provide some solutions to the opioid crisis:
At-Home Solutions to the Opioid Crisis
1. No matter whether you have kids or not or what age your kids are, keep your prescription medication in a home safe. You NEVER know who in your circle is struggling and why tempt fate when something so simple could avoid so much trouble. This means guests, housekeepers, literally anyone around your home. They are inexpensive and easy to use — we recommend something like this safe from Amazon. In a drug education class I took with my son, they told us most kids start abusing prescription drugs with pills they stole from their own home or the homes of relatives or families they visited and knew personally.
2. The one exception I would make to this rule would be Narcan. You should go immediately, like today, to your local pharmacy and ask for two doses of Narcan. Keep one in your glovebox of your car and one in your home somewhere easily accessible, and tell your family members as well where it is and how to use it. It’s available as a nasal spray so don’t worry about learning how to give anyone an injection. This medication is available with no prescription nationwide at any pharmacy. Narcan SAVES LIVES every day and is one of the most important solutions to our opioid crisis. You never know when or how you might encounter someone in the midst of an opioid overdose. This could happen to anyone and you could save a life. And it’s so easily available — if this was to happen in your home, seconds count and you want to be ready. My son’s life was saved more than once by Narcan so this is a really important one for me.
3. If you don’t need a prescription, don’t fill it and shred the scrip. If you fill one and don’t end up using it, return it to a medication take back site from the FDA or DEA. Don’t flush them because it’s terrible for the oceans and don’t throw them away because anyone could just pick them out of the trash.
4. If you use prescription drugs, smoke, or drink, don’t ever let your child see you being irresponsible or casual about it. That means driving after drinking, using marijuana or prescription drugs (even a little). It’s not enough to just not do it, the best thing is to explain to your child, “Mom/Dad’s gonna drive us home because I had a glass of wine with my dinner.” Point out the good choices you’re making so they know where you stand on these issues. Sometimes the best solutions to the opioid crisis involve just taking preventative measures like this one.
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5. If you have any of these joke shirts, glasses, or signs celebrating “wine mom” culture, get rid of them. Don’t spread those memes on social media and don’t make jokes about it. “Wine mom” culture where it’s become a socially normalized joke that moms need wine to get through their day, to deal with their negative feelings, and to handle stress is SO toxic. They model to our kids that we need an outside substance in order to function, that we are numbing minor stresses or aches and pains with alcohol and that’s super unhealthy. I cringe every time I see the little onesies that say “I’m why mommy drinks” — ewww.
6. Encourage your child to be involved with sports or extracurricular activities. It gives them a great reason to avoid partying and becoming involved with drugs and alcohol and for girls is a huge reason they are more confident in their bodies. Sports also offer teens an easy excuse to use if they want an out for weekend parties or events. It’s often easier for them to say “I can’t, I’m training,” or “I have a meet tomorrow” than “No thanks.” Go figure!
7. If you pay for your child’s cell phone and cell phone provider plan, then you’re entitled to see who they’re calling and texting and what they’re saying. Also to view their location. It’s YOUR phone. Now, don’t abuse this and “stalk” their every move like a creep, just look for anything health and safety related. Leave the gossip and drama to them. But you have to know if they’re using drugs, considering harming themselves or running away, or if they’ve been targeted by an adult predator. Anything between them and their friends is their business in my opinion. This is a controversial subject, but in my opinion you have a right to know where your kids are and what they’re doing when it’s related to health and safety and those are the parameters I’ve used. I don’t snoop into anything not health and safety related. And honestly, the more knowledge you have the better when it comes to implementing solutions to the opioid crisis. Here is a great list of apps to use if you have younger kids and are concerned about blocking certain apps or predators.
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If you’re concerned that you or a friend/family member is struggling with addiction, the most important thing to do is get help immediately. Here are some resources you can use:
It’s incredibly hard to go through addiction, whether it’s you or someone you love struggling. Please reference the resources above if you are in need of help, and drop your recommended addiction resources in the comments for us.
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