If you suspect your child is using
If you are concerned that your child may be using heroin or prescription painkillers, getting professional help outside the family will likely be very important. If you suspect your child has a problem, your first step may be to have an assessment done to determine if they are in fact using drugs, and if they are suffering from dependency or addiction. If so, the assessment will also help determine what resources are available that match up with your family’s needs. Assessments are offered through most treatment services. In the greater St. Louis area, you can also contact NCADA for an assessment, which is free for children age 19 and under. Click here if you live outside of the St. Louis area.
|NCADA offers free Adolescent Assessments
in the greater St. Louis area
If your child is addicted or struggling with relapse
If you know your child is currently addicted, has received treatment in the past but has relapsed or continues to relapse repeatedly, it may be necessary to find treatment that goes beyond what your child has received in the past, whether it be a more intensive level of care and/or treatment whose duration lasts longer than your child has received in the past. The most important and best advice we can offer is to not give up, do your best to help and not enable (see What is Enabling?), and to continue to push for treatment and participation in self-help programs such as Narcotics Anonymous or Heroin Anonymous.
There is much more information available on addiction and treatment on NCADA’s website. We encourage you to take the time to click here and visit this site to learn more.
If your child is on prescription painkillers
You need to be aware - almost all of the young people who use heroin have used prescription painkillers first!
Any teen who has painkillers such as oxycontin, oxycodone or vicodin prescribed to them should be very closely monitored by a physician and parent. This cannot be stated enough. Unless absolutely necessary, it is preferable a teen be prescribed a less powerful painkiller. For anyone taking strong painkillers, there is a potential for a physical dependency to develop - this in and of itself is not necessarily addiction. With a physician’s assistance, the individual can be weaned off the drug with little or no residual impact. However, if left on such a drug or if it is strictly taken recreationally, the potential for addiction is significant.
We encourage parents to take care of their own needs by participating in self-help options just for them. Regular attendance of self-help meetings can help parents find the kind of comfort, guidance and support they need by others who have been there or who are also currently there.
Here are some of the self-help options in the St. Louis area for parents or loved ones dealing with someone suffering from an addiction, as well as support groups for those who have lost their loved one (also available as a printable list here). For options outside of St. Louis, visit coda.org or nar-anon.org.