If your child is taking painkillers legitimately due to a prescription from a doctor, then you are probably already aware that there are painkillers in the house. If you suspect that there might be a painkiller addiction problem going on, then one of the best things that you can do is to monitor how many of the pills are being taken. How many pills should your teen still have in the bottle?
For example, if your teenager has a 30-day prescription for a medication and should have 60 pills, though you find after ten days that there are far fewer than 40 pills in the bottle, you know something is going on. Either your teenager is selling or giving away the pills, or they are taking them in an off-label manner in that they are taking higher dosages or more frequent dosages than what they are supposed to be taking. Monitor closely, and keep track on paper to see how often the pills are disappearing so that you can determine how serious the abuse problem is. It is always best to have some evidence before you accost your child about such an issue.
One of the most common things that you are going to experience with your child abusing painkillers is not the “high” they experience while taking the painkillers, but rather how they act when they are between dosages. If your son or daughter is truly abusing painkillers or addicted to painkillers, then what is going to happen is that between dosages, the physical dependency is going to cause them to go through withdrawal symptoms. They may be experiencing more pain than before, requiring them to take more of the medication than they are supposed to, or they may experience different withdrawal effects all together. For some types of painkillers, the withdrawal effect is a lot like experiencing a flu. If they seem literally ill in between dosages of their medication, then this could be a really big sign that something is going on in their body, and that they need help.
Spotting painkiller abuse is difficult. Remember that the odds are not likely that your teen is going to admit to having a problem, even when you accost them about the situation. When a teenager is going through a substance abuse problem, they are very rarely capable of realizing that there is an issue and dealing with it maturely. Instead, the odds are going to be good that they will hide the problem from you for as long as they possibly can.
If your teen suddenly seems to be more secretive than before, or if they hide their medication from you, then this could be a good sign that something is wrong. If your teen seems to be lying to you about how much they are taking, or they say they are no longer taking the medication, this is also a good sign that something is wrong. Your teen may lie and say they “lost” an entire bottle of painkillers and require an early refill, for example.
Ultimately it is going to be up to you to address the problem and get some help for your kid. You need to find a way to do this without accusing them or seeming angry so that they do not go deeper into the problem without asking for help. Working with a trained intervention specialist and a drug abuse rehab facility is one of the best things that you can do in order to get your teen some help.