What you need to know to keep your kids safe


Parent Pointers

Parents must model good behavior

Many parents are surprised to learn that they are the most powerful influence on their children when it comes to drugs.  But, it’s true.  How do you model positive behavior for your children?  What messages do you give them about casual drug use?  Think about it.  Sixty percent of teens who have abused prescription painkillers did so before age 15 and 45 percent of those who use prior to the age of 15 will later develop an addiction.  Kids need to hear how risky drug abuse can be. They need to know how damaging it can be to their lives. They need you, their parents, to be good role models.

Talk to your kids

Talk to your teen about the dangers of abusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs.  These are powerful drugs that, when misused, are just as dangerous as illegal street drugs.

On average, parents are two years behind the curve on figuring out what their kids are in to.
— Robert Alfonso, Ret. Capt. Pinellas Co. Sheriff's Office


Q: What should I do if I suspect my child is taking non prescribed prescription drugs?

A: Take action!  Remember, if your child is using drugs, he or she needs your help.  Don’t be afraid to be a strong parent, and if the problem becomes too much for you to handle alone, don’t hesitate to seek professional help, such as counseling, a support group or a treatment program.  The first step is to talk to your child.  Share your concerns.  Let your child know you are there for him or her.  Be understanding and explain your concerns. Open the door to communication and try not to be judgmental.


Q: How can I tell if my child is abusing drugs?

A: Here are some tips:

  • Difficulty falling asleep, insomnia, in appropriate napping
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Changes in friends
  • Lack of personal cleanliness, messy appearance
  • Red eyes and frequent use of eye drops
  • Runny nose, congestion, coughing
  • Pale face, circles under eyes
  • Abrupt changes in mood
  • Hostility, defiance of rules
  • Lack of responsibility, blaming, lying, making excuses
  • Loss of memory, shortened attention span, disordered thought patterns
  • Withdrawal from family, isolation, secretiveness
  • Changes in school or job performance


Q: What should I do around my house to keep my kids drug free?
A: Consider what prescription and over-the-counter drugs you have in the house. Where are they kept? Would you know if some were missing?

  • Safeguard all drugs at home
  • Monitor quantities and control access
  • Set clear rules for teens about all drug use
  • Model safe and appropriate use of your own medicines
  • Properly dispose of unused drugs (see below)


Q: How do I dispose of unused drugs?

A: Is your medicine cabinet filled with expired drugs or medications you no longer use? Medicine take-back programs for disposal are a good way to remove expired, unwanted, or unused medicines from the home and reduce the chance that others may accidentally take the medicine.  Contact your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service to see if there is a medicine take-back program in your community and learn about any special rules regarding which medicines can be taken back. You also can talk to your pharmacist to see if he or she knows of other medicine disposal programs in your area, or visit the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s website for information on national Prescription Drug Take-Back Events.


Sources: Partnership for a Drug Free America; Health Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Parents, The Anti-drug


Downloadable Resources

NOPE realizes the importance for parents to understand the issues related to drug use in order to learn how to make a difference in their childrens' lives.

The information below is compiled from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Parent Talk Kit

Tips for What to Say to Prevent Drug Abuse

9 Facts about Addiction  

that people usually get wrong

Drug Guide for Parents

Fact Sheet

Preventing Teen Abuse of Prescription Drugs

Fact Sheet