Prevention & Who’s At Risk

Anyone can become addicted. In the last 50 years, the “typical” opiate user has changed. Once concentrated in cities, opiates are now widely used by white men and women in their twenties who live in suburban or rural areas. 

Sharing pills is still a big contributor to the opioid epidemic. Most people who misuse opioids get them from friends or relatives. In Pennsylvania, 1 out of every 50 teens used a prescription opioid recreationally in the past month. 

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. 75% of young 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.