Tips for Parents; How to Prevent an Adolescent Overdose

Father with son at the beach.

Parents are always concerned about their kids’ well being and safety, completely normal feelings for parents to have. From birth to childhood, to adolescence, to teens, to young adulthood, and even beyond that, parents always have concern for their kids. Parents want to see their kids do well, parents want to see their kids succeed, be happy, be healthy, and experience a fulfilling lifestyle in general.

With drug addiction climbing so rapidly in the U.S., and with young people losing their lives to overdoses and serious accidents, it comes as no surprise that parents are concerned for their kids’ safety. Luckily, there are tips that parents can follow to safeguard their kids, no matter their ages, from overdose.

Strategies Parents can Use to Prevent Drug Overdoses

Fatal drug overdoses reached epidemic levels in 2012, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2017, President Trump announced that the opiate addiction crisis was a full-on “National Public Health Emergency.” Drug overdoses now surpass all other causes of preventable death except for smoking and obesity. Today, more people die from drug overdoses than car accidents and firearms. Drug overdoses have increased by more than five-hundred percent since 1999.

Statistics like these leave parents very concerned, and not without good reason. Young people are not the most prevalent demographic for opioid abuse, but they are the most at risk. What that means is that, while addiction affects adults in their thirties and forties more than teens and young adults, when a young person is afflicted with addiction, that individual is far more likely to die from such a habit than an older adult is.

Parents should take it upon themselves to prevent drug use, alcohol misuse, and any chance of overdose. Parents can:

  • Talk to their kids about drugs and alcohol. This is the most underutilized technique that parents can utilize for preventing substance abuse and overdose in their kids. Studies from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicate that parents who talk to their kids about the risks attendant with drug and alcohol abuse decrease the likelihood of their kids experimenting with drugs and alcohol by four-hundred percent. However, only about thirty percent of parents discuss drugs and alcohol with their kids. This is obviously an area that could use some work.
  • Keep a closer eye on their kids. There is nothing wrong with parents staying very “in tune” with what their kids are up to. Parents need not stalk their children, but they should have a good idea of what their kids are doing, who they’re hanging out with, what their activities consist of, etc. If parents have a better idea of what their kids are doing and who they’re spending their time with, it’s likely that parents can intervene in potentially risky situations before they get out of hand.
  • Keep Naloxone on hand. More adolescents, teens, and young adults are dying from opioid overdoses than all other drugs combined. Prevention is definitely the ideal approach and should constitute most of a parent’s anti-drug abuse and alcohol misuse strategies, but there is something to be said for being prepared for the worst. Naloxone, branded as Narcan, is an opioid overdose reversal drug. It comes in a nasal spray application or an IV application, both effective for bringing an overdosing individual back from the brink of death. Every household should have this emergency medicine on hand with fingers crossed that they never have to use it.
  • Set a good example. Kids of all ages learn by example, and with Mom and Dad being the authority figures and opinion leaders, their sons and daughters will follow suit. Parents should lead by example by living sober lifestyles themselves.

If parents take the right precautions, they have very little to be afraid of. They should still be vigilant, yes, but taking the right precautions significantly reduces risks for their kids.




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.