The opioid epidemic is a big problem in the US. State officials are taking action to decrease the rate of opioid overdoses, but they are failing. More and more people are dying from opioid overdoses. Another problem is that the opioid exposures among children are increasing.
Reports show that in the last 15 years, there were more than 188,000 calls about opioid exposures among young adults and children. These numbers were reported by poison control centers in the US. This means that there are more than 11,000 calls every year related to opioid exposures in children.
A new study shows the impact opioids have on children and young adults. When it comes to children younger than 5 years old, the opioid exposures were caused by the fact that they tend to explore and maybe they found a pill and ingested it.
Children older than 6 years old are usually victims of medication errors. Parents sometimes forget the correct dosage or they give them a second dose without noticing. The biggest problem is with young adults. The exposures to opioids in young adults were intentional. Teens have a higher risk of having suicidal thoughts and they might try taking opioids.
The reports show that the opioid exposures increased between 2000 and 2009. Researchers observed that over that period the cases of children’s exposure to opioids increased by 86%. Opioid exposures declined after 2009, but the decrease was minor.
Experts mentioned that this decline is because doctors started to limit the number of opioid prescriptions. Also, parents started to get better at locking away pills from their children. Improved technologies also help prevent people from purchasing large amounts of opioids.
The downside of the improved technology is that people are now replacing opioids with street drugs such as heroin. Despite the fact that the opioid exposures among children decreased, they are still bigger now than they were in 2000.
This report also shows that teens who abuse opioids received a prescription for them before they started abusing them. The rate of teens using these drugs for non-medical and medical use is slowly declining. Despite this fact, the rate is still too high. Researchers mentioned that these findings don’t apply to all the US. This is because opioid exposures affect some areas more than others.
Image source: Wikipedia