By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4)– Opioid abuse is a national crisis for children and adults. Now, parents are being encouraged to advocate for their kids and limit their access to prescription pain medications.

Adolescents are often initially exposed to opioids through prescriptions. When a doctor suggests Percocet, Vicodin or another opioid for a child’s pain management, some parents are considering alternatives.

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(credit: CBS)

When pitcher Evan Conklin hurt his shoulder in high school baseball, he was scheduled for surgery. His mother, Michele, asked about treatment for pain.

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(credit: Michele Conklin)

“The surgeon really didn’t have much of a response other than opioids,” Michele Conklin told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

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CBS4 Health Specialist Kath Walsh interviews Michele Conklin (credit: CBS)

Evan opted for physical therapy instead. When he had his wisdom teeth removed a year later, the teen did take a prescription.

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(credit: Michele Conklin)

“We kept it locked away, we mixed in ibuprofen and got him off as quickly as possible,” said Michele.

Evan climbed a Colorado 14-er 11 days after his operation.

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(credit: Michele Conklin)

For years, Michele has been concerned about the misuse of prescription pain killers. She has been seeking alternatives and locking up all medications in a safe.

“Anything that can be harmful, I think just keeping it out of harm’s way is a good idea,” she said.

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Michele Conklin (credit: CBS)

The experts agree.

“Most people that end up with a problem like addiction, overdose or death,” said Dr. Robert Valuck, professor with CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy. “Seventy percent of them started with the leftovers of somebody else in their medicine cabinet.”

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Dr. Robert Valuck (credit: CBS)

Valuck supports parents who ask about options.

“Maybe some other meds might work or some other things like ice or rest or Tylenol and ibuprofen in rotation,” Valuck said.

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(credit: Michele Conklin)

Evan Conklin is in college now. Michele says he still gets the occasional injury, but manages his pain without a prescription.

The website Speak Now Colorado has tips on how to talk with your kids and your kids’ doctors about prescription drug use, and about alcohol and marijuana.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 since 1984. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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