FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- Northeast Indiana has reached record numbers of opioid overdoses this year. Now the crisis is affecting people ages 11 to 18.
"I think so many of these kids become addicted to these medications quite innocently. They start on them for legitimate reasons, and they just have a genetic predisposition to becoming addicted, or maybe they have an underling anxiety that this is addressing partially," said Dr. Deborah McMahan, the health commissioner.
Dr. McMahan warned parents not to leave medications laying around the house, and if your child has been prescribed the medication, monitor their use, and talk to them about the possibility of addiction.
"I think they need the right information, and they need a standard set for their family by their parents," McMahan said.
Officials said there are signs your teen could be using drugs, such as pinpoint pupils, and paranoia. If you have doubts, they recommend doing a thorough search in their room.
"Certainly one thing we'll do is try to get them to the hospital for treatment. We'll reach out to treatment facilities and try to get those parents and that child connected to the treatment facilities," said Captain Kevin Hunter of the Fort Wayne Police Department.
It's never too early to talk about drugs. Some parents started having the conversation as early as age four.
"I explained to them the real danger is once you get started, you never know what kind of road you're going to go down. So the best avenue for them is to not start to begin with," said John Rigdon.
Andrea Schroeder said she's changed how she talks to her family about drugs.
"It's something that I'm very open and honest about. It's kind of like they were sort of thrown into it. I didn't really talk about it with my two older daughters too much. I guess maybe I was naive," Schroeder said.
After losing her daughter, Miriah, to an overdose last year, she sad her nine and 14-year-old are well educated on the topic.
"Don't think it can't happen to your child, because I thought that for a long time," Schroeder said.
Resources are available in the community for parents in need.
For more information on teens and opioids, click here.
For resources from McMillen Health, click here.