Opioids: Facts Parents Need to Know
Talking to Your Kids: Communicating the Risks

This is Archived Content. This content is available for historical purposes only. It may not reflect the current state of science or language from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Find current research and publications at nida.nih.gov.

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Opioid misuse can have lasting effects. When opioids are misused, they can have harmful effects on your brain, like slowed breathing. Slowed breathing can then lead to short-and long-term health effects, including coma, brain damage, and death. Some studies have shown that repeated opioid misuse also can affect people’s behavior, decision-making, and responses to stressful situations. So, it’s important to be aware of any changes in your teen’s behavior.

Opioids can be addictive. Opioids are among the most addictive drugs. Over time, opioids can change the brain, which leads to addiction. People who are addicted to opioids can feel a strong need to take the drug again and again. They may also experience severe withdrawal symptoms in the absence of the drug. These negative withdrawal symptoms, coupled with the strong desire to use opioids, are why some people continue to use opioids, despite negative consequences to their health and well-being.

Opioid use can affect every area of your teen’s life. Using drugs early in life can lead to poor grades and bad relationships with friends and family. Opioid use can alter judgment and make it more likely your teen could make risky decisions like having unprotected sex or driving under the influence.1–3