Prevention & Who’s At Risk

Anyone can become addicted. In the last 50 years, the “typical” opioid user has changed. Once concentrated in cities, opioids are now widely used (and misused) by urban, suburban and rural people. Opioid addiction does not discriminate: all genders, ages, and ethnicities are affected.

Sharing pills is still a big contributor to the opioid epidemic. Most people who misuse opioids get them from friends or relatives. In Pennsylvania, about 3% of adolescents and 7% of young adults have misused prescription painkillers in the last year.

Below is research-based information available about preventing opiate use that parents and caregivers can use.

1. Involved and supportive parenting can reduce the likelihood that a young person will use drugs.

What this means for parents:
As a parent or caregiver, there are things you can do to impact a young person’s choices. One thing you can do is have conversations with your child about the risks of substance use. For specifics, see our Family Toolkit.

2. Research clearly shows that early onset of substance use leads to more problems later in life. The majority of young adults in addiction treatment started using drugs before the age of 18. Drugs change brains and teenage brains are particularly vulnerable to the effects of drugs.

What this means for parents:
Delaying the start of substance use can make a huge difference in your child’s life.

3. Most people who misuse prescription painkillers get them from friends and family, not doctors.

What this means for parents:
Keep track of medications in your household and restrict your child’s access to them. Dispose of all medications properly. Make sure to talk with your child about the risks of taking someone else’s medication. For specifics, see and download our Family Toolkit.