Opioids + Other Drugs

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.

Talk to your kids about drugs, including prescription drugs. Talk early, and often. What you say makes a difference in their decision to try alcohol or drugs. Tell them the facts. They are listening.

Know the facts….

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines a drug as a chemical substance that can change how your body and mind work. Drug use can have indirect effects on both the people who are taking drugs and on those around them. This can include affecting a person’s nutrition; sleep; decision-making and impulsivity; and risk for trauma, violence, injury, and communicable diseases.

People of all ages suffer the harmful consequences of drug use and addiction:

Teens who use drugs may act out and may do poorly in school or drop out.6 Using drugs when the brain is still developing may cause lasting brain changes and put the user at increased risk of dependence.7

Adults who use drugs can have problems thinking clearly, remembering, and paying attention. They may develop poor social behaviors as a result of their drug use, and their work performance and personal relationships suffer.

Parents’ drug use can mean chaotic, stress-filled homes, as well as child abuse and neglect.8 Such conditions harm the well-being and development of children in the home and may set the stage for drug use in the next generation.9

Babies exposed to drugs in the womb may be born premature and underweight. This exposure can slow the child’s ability to learn and affect behavior later in life.10 They may also become dependent on opioids or other drugs used by the mother during pregnancy, a condition called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Drug use can have a wide range of short- and long-term effects. Short-term effects can range from changes in appetite, wakefulness, heart rate, blood pressure, and/or mood to heart attack, stroke, psychosis, overdose, and even death. These health effects may occur after just one use. Longer-term effects can include heart or lung disease, cancer, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and others. Long-term drug use can also lead to addiction.

Helping Children and Teens Stay Drug Free

Kids hear about drugs everywhere: in music, movies, the news, and on TV. They hear about it online, in things like YouTube videos, or on apps like Instagram or Snapchat. They might see people doing drugs on the street or even in their own home. They might hear other kids talking about it at school, parties, or even on the playground. The teen years are the most likely time for someone to try drugs, and that can lead to drug problems when they grow up.

There are many things you can do to help your children stay away from drugs and make good choices. This list has been provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

Talk with your children about drugs before they are teens.
Explain why taking drugs can hurt their health, their friends and family, and their future. Tell them you don’t want them to take drugs that they aren’t supposed to. Repeat these messages during their teen years.

Text your teen. 
Send positive text messages to your teen. Or send a text after you have a conversation that reminds them of your talk. You don’t have to worry about popular texting language. Just write the way you talk. Tell them you are proud of them.

Be a part of their lives. 
Spend time together. Even when times are hard, kids can make it when they know that the adults in their life care about them. Give your child your full attention. Turn off your TV, cell phone, or computer, and really listen.

Know where your children are and what they’re doing. 
Keeping track of your children helps you protect them. It gives them fewer chances to get into drugs.

Set clear rules and enforce them fairly. 
Kids need rules they can count on. That is how they learn for themselves what is safe and what can get them in trouble. Explain why you are setting a rule so they understand why it matters.

Be a good example for your children. 
You might not think so, but kids look up to their parents. Show them how you get along with people and deal with stress. This can teach them how to do it.

Make your home safe. 
Know the people you have in the house. Try not to have people over who misuse drugs and alcohol. Keep track of medicines and cleaning products you have in the house.

Conversations are one of the most powerful tools parents can use to connect with — and protect — their kids. We get that it can be challenging to know what to say when tackling some of life’s tougher topics, especially those about drugs and alcohol. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has provided scenarios and scripts on how to bring up the subject of drugs and alcohol, and what you can say to your child, no matter their age. Learn more here!

When talking to your kids, keep these tips in mind:
• Always keep conversations open and honest.
• Come from a place of love, even when you’re having tough conversations.
• Balance positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.
• Keep in mind that teachable moments come up all the time – be mindful of natural places for the conversation to go in order to broach the topic of drugs and alcohol.


What is an opioid? Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the use of these prescription drugs for short durations, as prescribed by a doctor, is generally safe. However, use of illegal opioids and misuse of prescription opioids can lead to addiction and even overdose or death.

Misuse can include:
• Taking a drug that has been prescribed for someone else
• Taking a prescribed medicine differently than prescribed (taking more than prescribed or for longer that prescribed)
• Taking it to get high.

Because opioids are highly addictive, anyone who takes them can become addicted. Taking too many can stop a person’s breathing—leading to death.

Data from NIDA shows that in 2018, 128 people died everyday in the United States after overdosing on opioids.1 The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.2

Opioid Side Effects:

Doctors prescribe opioids for pain, but they can have serious side effects including:
• Tolerance: over time, you might need to take more for the same pain relief
• Physical dependence: you have withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the medication
• Increased pain sensitivity
• Constipation
• Nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth
• Sleepiness and dizziness
• Confusion
• Depression
• Low testosterone that can result in lower sex drive, energy, and strength
• Itching and sweating
• Overdose leading to death

Safe Medication Storage and Disposal

Proper storage and disposal of medications saves lives. It prevents accidental poisoning, misuse and overdose in our community.

Safe Storage:
• Organize and track your medications
• Pick a safe storage location. Make sure it’s high up, out of sigh, and not easily accessible by young children. It should be cool and dry so not to damage your medications.
• If there is a chance of others taking your medications without your knowledge, you may need to keep them locked in a safe, or another secure location.
• Medication lock boxes are available free of charge at the Prevention Office.

Safe Disposal:
• Safely dispose of unwanted, expired, or harmful medications promptly.
• A medication drop-box is located inside the lobby of our local law enforcement center (417 Arapahoe St.)
• Don’t flush your medications down the drain or toilet as this could potentially contaminate our drinking water.
• Don’t throw your medications in the trash. Misuse can occur once the medication leaves your home. Always opt for a secure disposal site or use a drug deactivation bag (deterra bag). These are available free of charge at the Prevention Office.

What is Safe2Tell Wyoming?

Safe2Tell Wyoming is a statewide, 24/7 confidential tipline for students, parents, school staff, and concerned community members to report school and student safety concerns. The #1 reported concern in January 2020 was drugs, followed by vaping/juuling, followed by suicide threats.
Click here to learn more about Safe2Tell Wyoming and how to use it.

Contact Us:
Hot Springs County Prevention Coalition
415 Springview / Thermopolis, WY 82443
(307) 864-6520 / jcheney@hotsprings1.org

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