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On this page you will find information regarding substance-use amongst adolescents, alongside with resources to help you detect signs of usage, tools to help facilitate conversations about drugs, treatment options for adolescents, the use of naloxone, methods of appropriate storage and disposal of prescription medication, and information about substance use during pregnancy. Additionally, links to support groups for parents and loved ones of people with substance use disorder are also provided.

The Opioid Epidemic in Indiana

Opioids are a class of drugs that can be used to reduce pain. This includes prescription drugs that are legally prescribed by a doctor (e.g., Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContin) as well as illicit opioids such as heroin. The opioid epidemic is devastating communities throughout the United States, including Indiana. 1 In 2018, there were 1,098 opioid-related deaths in Indiana and the state was 19th in the United States in a ranking for the highest drug overdose death rates. Most overdose deaths in Indiana occurred among individuals between the ages of 18- and 60- years old.

The opioid epidemic is not only impacting adults, but also having an impact on children and adolescents. One study, examining opioid use in children (persons under 20 years of age) from 2000-2015, found that 56.1% of opioid exposure in children was unintentional. However, in the same study it was discovered that 71.5% of exposures among teenagers were intentional.2

How to Talk to your Child about Drugs

The following links provide resources for preventing drug abuse in teens and talking to your teen about drug us.

Early Warning Signs of Teen Substance Use 6

One of the most challenging aspects of SUD, is that it is a progressive disease making early warning signs hard to spot, allowing unhealthy patterns to develop into full blown SUD quickly. Teens already experience mood swings due to changing hormones as a natural part of adolescence. Pay attention if your teenager is experiencing mood swings in conjunction with changes in behavior or appearance such as the following, as these could be signed of medication misuse or drug abuse:

  • Loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed.
  • Dropping old friends for a new friend group.
  • Acting despondent, aggressive, or angry.
  • Sleeping more or less than usual.
  • Breaking rules at home and/or school.
  • Exhibiting physical changes like sudden weight loss, frequent nosebleeds, bloodshot or watery eyes, or shakes and tremors.

Knowing your teenager’s passions, interests, and habits can make the early warning signs more apparent. Casual use can quickly spiral out of control if you ignore problems, rationalize teenage drinking or smoking marijuana, or avoid having open and honest discussions with your child. The earlier intervention happens, the more effective prevention and treatment efforts will be. For more early warning signs of substance use, check out this article by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Treatment Options for Teens

If you or your teen needs treatment for substance use, click here to locate a treatment provider near you.

Prescription Medication Safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids, and more than 46 people die from prescription opioid overdoses. 7 Between 2000 and 2015, poison control centers received approximately 188,000 calls regarding pediatric and teenage exposure to opioids. 8 Sixty percent of children exposed to opioids were younger than 5, while teenagers accounted for 30 percent. 8

To help prevent prescription misuse in children and teens it is important to keep prescription medications stored properly (out of sight and locked up) and dispose of expired and/or unused medications. Do not flush your expired or unused medications. The best way to dispose of unused or expired medication is through a drug-take back program. Click here to locate a take-back site near you. To learn more about medication storage and safe disposal, visit this site. Additionally, you can view this guide on safe and effective pain management recommendations.


Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan®, is a non-narcotic that is an antidote for opioid overdoses. If administered in a timely manner, naloxone can reverse the life-threatening respiratory failure that is usually the cause of overdose deaths. Hence why many experts highly recommend having it available in households where there is risk of an opioid overdose. It can be easily administered by parents and siblings in the event of an emergency. Naloxone has been proven effective in reversing overdoses caused by heroin and prescription medications such as OxyContin, Percocet, Methadone and Vicodin. To learn more about Naloxone, including training videos, and frequently asked questions, click here. No prescription is needed to access Naloxone, visit the OptIN registry website to locate a site near you where you can purchase Naloxone.

Pregnancy and Substance Use 5

If you are pregnant and you use drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine, so does your baby. What you eat, drink or use passes on to your child through the placenta. Babies do not process substances the 5same way adults do. ALWAYS ask your health care provider if it is safe to use any drug, medication, over-the-counter medicine, vitamin or home remedy. Your doctor may change your prescriptions while you are pregnant. There are many dangerous risks to mom and baby of taking drugs nor recommended by a doctor.  For more information on substance, alcohol, and/or tobacco use during pregnancy, including a list of risks and frequently asked questions, click here.

The Indiana Department of Health Maternal and Child Health Division created the MOMs Helpline, committed to improving pregnant women’s access to early and regular prenatal care and connecting them with a network of prenatal and child health care services within their local communities, state agencies, and other organizations around Indiana. The MOMs Helpline can be access by calling 1-844-MCH-MOMS (1-844-624-6667) or by email at MCHMOMSHelpline@isdh.in.gov. For more information, visit this page.

For more resources related to Maternal and Child Health, visit the MCH page here. Also, if your pregnant or planning to become pregnant check out the Liv app (available on iTunes or Google Play).

Additional Resources


1 Indiana Department of Health. (2019, October). Drug Overdose Epidemic in Indiana: Behind the Numbers. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.in.gov/isdh/files/85_Drug%20Overdose%20Data%20Brief_2019.pdf

2 Allen, J., Casavant, M., Spiller, H., Chounthirath, T., Hodges, N., & Smith, G. (2017, April 01). Prescription Opioid Exposures Among Children and Adolescents in the United States: 2000–2015. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/139/4/e20163382

3 American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2019). Definition of Addiction. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.asam.org/Quality-Science/definition-of-addiction

4 Hartney, E. (2020, November 13). The 11 Official Criteria for Addiction. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-the-official-criteria-for-addiction-22493

5 Indiana Department of Health. (2020). Substance Use and Pregnancy. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.in.gov/isdh/28473.htm

6 Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. (2019, November 11). Early Warning Signs of Teen Substance Use. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/articles/warning-signs-teen-substance-use

7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, February 26). CDC Rx Awareness Factsheet. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/rxawareness/pdf/RxAwareness-Campaign-Overview-508.pdf

8 Naqvi, J. (2017, March 30). Poison control centers receive 32 calls a day about children exposed to opioids. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/03/20/poison-control-centers-receive-32-calls-a-day-about-children-exposed-to-opioids/

Test your drug and alcohol knowledge with the National Institute of Health 2020 National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge.

What every parent needs to know about Indiana’s Opioid Epidemic. Click Here

Understand addiction and brain with this TedMed Talk video.

Indiana State Department of Health's Guidelines for Newborn Withdrawal

Indiana State Department of Health's Fact Sheet on Your Pregnancy: What You Should Know About Over the Counter Medicines, Herbs, Supplements, and Other Substances

Indiana State Department of Health's Tips on Substance Use During Pregnancy: How to Have a Healthier Baby

Page Last Updated 02/16/2021