Opioid overdose among children and teenagers on the rise: Study

Opioid overdose among children and teenagers on the rise: Study

Opioid addiction is being recognized as a rapidly growing problem in the United States. Since 2000, the number of deaths in the U.S. due to drug overdose has risen 137 percent, including a 200 percent surge in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids, says the Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention (CDC).

As per a research by the Yale School of Medicine, opioid overdose among children has gone up considerably between 1997 and 2012, with a two-fold increase among toddlers. Dr. Julie Gaither of the Yale School also found out that among children under 10 years of age, most of the drug overdose cases were accidental. She said that though most of the overdose cases among teenagers were accidental, some were suicide attempts. Both the age groups also saw an increase in hospitalization involving painkillers, such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s (JAMA) Pediatrics in October 2016, said that more children in the U.S. are being admitted to hospitals due to opioid overdose. The number of children getting emergency treatment for drug overdose has more than doubled between 1997 and 2012. After looking at hospital records of children being admitted to emergency rooms, the team found that from 1997 to 2012, there was a total of 13,052 hospitalizations due to prescription opioid poisonings. The researchers also said that most of the cases were accidental poisonings.

Pattern of methadone abuse

The researchers also found a disturbing pattern of methadone abuse. They found that from 1997 to 2012, hospitalizations due to methadone poisoning increased 950 percent among adolescents from 15 to 19 year olds. The team also discovered an increase in the number of hospitalizations due to opioid overdose for boys. In 1997, boys accounted for 35 percent hospitalizations due to opioid overdose and by 2012, this number went up by 47 percent.

Need to implement certain steps to check overdose among kids

As per the researchers, reduction in the exposure of children and teenagers to opioids would involve a combination of policy initiatives, consumer product regulations and public health intervention programs. They also suggested simple solutions like keeping the drugs away from children, smart drug packaging, better education of children and their parents and stricter rules for drug use. The team also suggested pediatric-specific recommendations and national guidelines for pediatrics concerning opioid prescription.

As per the CDC, the U.S. sees 14,000 deaths every year due to opioid overdose. A combination of opioids and tranquilizers like Valium can cause dangerous side effects. Since the mid-1990s, opioid overdose deaths have dramatically increased mainly due to an increase in the number of prescriptions for opioids. An overdose of an opioid painkiller such as Vicodin or morphine can cause slowed breathing, confusion and even death.

The most common culprits involved in opioid overdose deaths include oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and fentanyl. With continuous use, people tend to get addicted to opioids and continue taking the medicines even when not required. To satiate their hunger for these prescription drugs, people may take to various nefarious means to procure the drugs. Some of the risk factors identified for overdose among individuals receiving prescribed opioids include opioid dosage, opioid type and co-prescription of benzodiazepines.

Help at hand

As per the CDC, opioid overdose has hit a record high in the U.S. In 2014, opioid overdose  killed more than 47,000 people in the U.S., compared to 32,000 individuals killed during road accidents.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an opioid overdose, contact the Florida Prescription Addiction Helpline to get the customized treatment solutions at some of the best drug treatment centers in Florida. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 292-3211 or chat online with our representatives for more information on the best drug addiction treatment centers in Florida.

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