Health Care

Fewer Children in US Overdosing on Opioids

Fewer Children in US Overdosing on Opioids

Even more alarming, parents of older children said they are less anxious than parents of younger children, despite the fact many opioid addictions start when teens experiment with pain pills in high school. Hopefully, this downward trend will continue into the future as parents get the message about keeping risky prescription drugs away from children.

Almost 73 percent of parents surveyed by Johns Hopkins researchers acknowledged kids are at a greater risk of overdose from prescription opioids than adults, but only 13 percent said they worry about their kids accessing and abusing their prescription pills.

New findings reveal the number of calls to poison control about children being exposed to opioids is on the rise. Researchers also found that teens had a greater chance of being admitted to a hospital because of serious outcomes.

That averages out to more than 30 calls a day.

Among children under the age of five, most exposures were accidental, occurring at home.

Addiction to opioids such as codeine, fentanyl, and oxycodone has emerged as a serious health problem in America.

"Unintentional poisonings are now the leading cause of injury-related mortality in the United States. Among teenagers aged 15 to 19 years, there was a 91 percent increase in fatal poisoning from 2000 to 2009, which was mostly attributable to an increase in prescription drug overdoses", the team wrote.

According to the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the nationwide sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled ever since the year 1999.

"The epidemic of opioid use disproportionately affects some urban and more rural areas", they write.

More than 70 percent of the teens took the drugs on objective, the team found.

And 90 percent of the buprenorphine cases were among kids under 5. "Buprenorphine is nearly exclusively prescribed for adults, so exposures among children represent a failure to safeguard the medication". Many parents who take prescription opioids do not properly store the pills, increasing the risks of children taking and overdosing on the drugs. The researchers are calling for changes to the way these drugs are packaged, along with other practical measures to reduce exposure.

And adults need to keep track not only of their own medications, but those given to their children. Approximately 70 percent of teens who use opioids are getting them from friends or family (either knowingly or unknowingly), and not through a doctor's prescription.

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