For a generation of parents whose primary knowledge of heroin may be rooted in pop culture like the film “Trainspotting,” it can be easy to dismiss opioid addiction as something that happens to other people’s children.

A truer picture

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that the problem is much more widespread than many may realize. For example, the survey reports that 467,000 adolescents were nonmedical users of pain relievers in 2014 and 168,000 were addicted to prescription pain relievers. In the same year, an estimated 28,000 teens used heroin, 16,000 were considered “users” and 18,000 had a heroin use disorder.

On a more optimistic note, the National Institute of Drug Abuse reported in 2014 that misuse of prescription drugs had declined since 2009. While this is a positive trend, the U.S. government still considers America’s prescription drug crisis an epidemic. In a 2011 report the White House recommended that parents and youth become better informed about misperceptions and risks associated with prescription drugs, as well as how to recognize the signs of misuse.

For a generation of kids whose primary knowledge of heroin may be rooted in personal experience, parents can’t afford to dismiss opioid addiction as “someone else’s problem.”