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About 130 people die of opioid-related overdoses every day. This crisis affects everyone, including children— around 5.7 million kids live in homes where a parent is struggling with substance abuse. Books and media can help kids deal with addiction issues and prevent children from getting involved in drugs in the future.
Recently, Sesame Street introduced Karli, a Muppet who was placed in foster care because her mother is struggling with addiction. On the show, Karli talks about the fact that her mom goes to meetings with other grown-ups who are facing similar struggles. Karli shares that she goes to meetings for kids, and explains that she is in foster care because her mom isn't able to take care of her right now. By including Karli on Sesame Street, the show gives an important voice to kids who are affected by addiction, and helps bring awareness to viewers.
Sharing stories about addiction with children helps to prevent kids from getting involved in drugs themselves. Laura Happe, a pharmaceutical doctor, recently wrote If You Give an Ox an Oxy, a take on the popular If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series. This book is aimed at teaching children and teenagers about the dangers of opioids. It can be used not only as a resource for kids dealing with addiction in their families, but also as a way to prevent opioid abuse in the future. It's best suited for older kids and teens.
Whether you have a family member struggling with addiction or simply want to discuss the topic with your child, using media can be an effective conversation starter. Talking to your child about the new Muppet, Karli, or the ox's journey will give your child an opportunity to ask questions, develop empathy for those struggling with addiction, and develop skills to avoid drug abuse. For more suggestions on books to support conversations about addiction, check out this resource list.
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