Young children are getting their hands on drugs more than ever before. It’s becoming such a concern that the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending children as young as nine be screened for substance abuse.

“I think more than a good handful of 9-year-olds have used drugs,” said Dr. Lou Romig of After Hours Pediatrics in Tampa.

Dr. Romig says although drug screening is a touchy subject, it’s necessary to have these conversations with children to prevent future substance abuse.  

“It can be your kid. You won’t know if it’s your kid unless one you develop a good trusting relationship and number two, talk to them,” Dr. Romig said. “It’s not just drugs, alcohol or tobacco, but it is also prescription medication, we know about the opioid epidemic.” 

Talking with your children about drugs and their deadly consequences could save a life.

“Many of the drugs can affect the level of consciousness, make people pass out, that can cause low oxygen levels. I mean we are talking about anything from the effects that could be delayed for years to an acute problem that could even cause death.”

It’s also important to know the difference between a drug screening and a drug test.  A screening is simply a conversation with a child where you can ask your child if they know what drugs are, if they’ve ever used them, and advised them of the severe consequences.