Talking with Your Kids About Heroin

Talking with Your Kids About Heroin

Having meaningful, ongoing conversations about the use of substances, including illegal drugs like heroin, is an essential part of helping to keep your child safe from the harm these drugs can have on a young person’s life.

Get ready to talk to your child with these suggestions

Find out what your adolescent or young adult child knows (or think they know) about heroin. Ask questions like:

  • What have you heard about heroin?
  • What do you know about it and how addictive it is compared to other substances?
  • Where did you get this information?
  • Does anyone in your school take or sell heroin? Do any of your friends?
  • Have you ever been offered heroin? If so, what did you say? If not, what would you say?
  • What are the signs of a heroin overdose? What would you do if you witnessed someone overdosing on heroin or another opioid?

Use open-ended questions like: “What do you think motivates kids to take heroin?” or “What do you think causes people to overdose?

Use active listening. Be curious as to what your teen or young adult thinks about the use of illegal drugs.

Repeat or reflect back what your child answers to let them know you’ve heard what they have said. Reflections do not mean that you necessarily agree, but that you understand what your child was trying to convey.

Choose a good time and place. Look for opportunities to talk when both you and your child are most receptive. While it may be tempting to start a conversation when your child is rushing off to school or work, it is not ideal. Some parents find taking a walk, going for a drive or working on chores together are good times for conversations about drugs.

Talk about the short – and long-term effects that illegal drugs can have on their mental and physical health, safety and ability to make decisions that will keep them from serious harm.

Talk about their future plans. Ask your child what might happen if they make a choice to experiment with heroin. This helps your child to think about their future, and what their personal boundaries might be around substance use.e

The teen years can be tough. Offer empathy & support and let your child know that you understand they might struggles sometimes, but substances are not a useful or healthy way to cope with problems. Remind them that you are always there to support and guide them.

Understand your influence as a parent. Teens say that when it comes to making choices about whether to use alcohol and other drugs, their parents are the most important influencers.

Clearly communicate that the use of heroin and illegal drugs of any kind can have negative consequences to their mental and physical health. People who use heroin risk developing an addiction to the substance. Also, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in heroin and other street drugs has made the use of these drugs extremely dangerous and potentially lethal, even if used once.

Note: If your teen or adult child already uses heroin, or any other opioid based drugs, there is risk of accidental overdose – know the signs of an overdose, and keep a naloxone kit on hand.