Teaching opioid safety to teens may have simple solution


Can an educational game could be an effective way to improve opioid knowledge and safety for teenagers?

A majority of deaths linked to opioids in children and adolescents are the result of opioid misuse. For health care providers, understanding what this population knows about opioids is imperative. A poster presented at the APhA 2022 Annual Meeting & Exposition in San Antonio, Texas, examined whether using an educational game would be received well by adolescents and helpful in improving their opioid knowledge.

Investigators from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy ran a 67-question survey that asked questions about perceived knowledge, misuse harm, behavioral intent, impact of an educational game, and safe storage and disposal. Questions included “Have you heard of the drug naloxone?”; “Is it OK to take someone else’s opioid medication if you had the same prescription in the past?”; and “Is the opioid crisis harming teenagers in the US?” The survey was open from October to November 2020, and eligible participants were aged 12 to 18, lived in the United States, and understood English. Participants were evenly split between boys and girls and the average age was 14.67 years.

Among participants (n=592), many teens demonstrated awareness that the opioid epidemic was harming their peer group. However, many teenagers were not aware of naloxone. Variability in opioid knowledge and safety were noted among gender, race, grade, and age.

In response to the question, “After playing an educational video game, would you feel as though your knowledge about opioid medication safety would increase?” a majority of respondents—over 450—responded “Yes.”

“Findings support the use of an educational game to increase adolescents’ opioid knowledge,” the researchers concluded, adding that further study should examine whether the use of an educational game would improve knowledge.

This article was originally published by sister publication Drug Topics.


1. Rosenberger C, Abraham O, Birstler J, Tierney K. Youth opioid safety knowledge and perceived impact of an educational game: a nationally representative sample. Presented at: American Pharmacists Association 2022 Annual Meeting & Exposition; March 18-21, 2022; San Antonio, TX.

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