The Four Winds Blog

What you need to know about Heroin Part 2: What's a parent to do?  

By Jennifer Powell-Lunder, Psy. D.

Heroin can feel like an intimidating topic to address with your teenager. As lots of parents have already talked about the perils of drug use with their kids, a specific focus on heroin may not have seemed necessary, and the old stereotype that heroin is only an urban street-drug has helped waylay the conversation for too long. The reality is that heroin has hit the suburbs.

Education predicates prevention. This adage should be kept in mind when trying to understand the recent heroin epidemic taking hold of the suburban teenager population across the country. The best equipped parents to identify and counteract the impact of heroin in their community possess an understanding of how and why heroin has taken such a firm hold on teenage users.

Teaching through Talking

Parents might have more influence over their teenagers than they realize, and the positive effects of an open and honest conversation cannot be emphasized enough, especially when teenagers look to their parents for support and guidance. Parents should keep a weather eye open for opportunities to discuss the dangers associated with heroin use. Maybe it’s an article about a well-known celebrity overdosing, or a piece in the local paper detailing a recent heroin related tragedy. Really, any opener will suffice, but the conversation should be continuous.

Community Power

One of the greatest resources parents ignore is other parents in the community. The concern about stigma can prevent people from talking to each other, but when communities work together, a wider net is cast and tragedy can be better caught and prevented. It’s easy to adopt the attitude of “not my kid” and a team approach encourages community members to step forward with concerns parents themselves might overlook. The key to prevention is awareness that there is a problem to begin with, and the more people who keep watch for any potential problem, the timelier the response is.

A parting word from capitalism: where there is no demand, there is no supply. Heroin will take a natural exit from communities where there are no users. The best way to ensure this is by educating our teenagers and weeding out the addictive habit from their generation by taking a proactive stance.


Additional Resources:

Trends in youth and high school

Facts about heroin

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)


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