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Thrice As Many Toddlers & Teenagers Have Been Hospitalized For Opioid Poisonings In Recent Decades

Even the youngest members of society are no longer safe from opioids that are so easily accessible. According to a new study, the recent years have seen a drastic surge in the toddlers and teenagers being hospitalized as a result of opioid poisoning. Children under the age of 10 generally end up accidentally overdosing on opioid painkillers, mistaking the pills for candy. There have also been cases of teenagers consuming large quantities of opioid painkillers to commit suicide. A significant use of opioid painkiller medications like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin, whether accidental or not, has been observed in both age groups.

This is the first time that a study has been conducted to scrutinize the nationwide rats of hospitalization due to opioid poisoning among toddlers and teenagers. The fact that prescription opioid medication is so readily available to young children and adolescents is could lead to potentially severe consequences. Research related to the prescription opioid epidemic and overdose rates has mostly revolved around adults until now. Of course, unlike children, there have been considerably more opioid overdose-related deaths among adults, drawing the attention of the media. Furthermore, the easy access of opioid painkillers among toddlers and teenagers can be traced back to adults since they are ones bringing these medications home from pharmacies.

Between 1997 and 2012, there has been a 205% surge in the rate of opioid poisonings among children between the ages of 1 and 4. Similarly, there has also been a 176% in the rate of opioid poisonings among teeangers between the ages of 15 and 19. Looking at the overall national hospitalization rates among those under the age of 19, the study reveals that has been a 165% increase. Additionally, the study also reports a 161% rise in heroin-related overdose poisonings and a 950% surge in methadone-related overdose poisonings.

As of now, sufficient attention has not been paid on the impact that the opioid crisis has had on children, even though just about everyone is vulnerable to it. It is for the first time that the study has shed light on the fact that this epidemic has proven to be equally detrimental for children. There has also been a dramatic rise in the prescription rates of narcotic, opioid painkillers. Thus, millions of homes in the United States now have opioid medications, and more than often, toddlers and teenagers easily manage to gain access to those drugs.

To some, it may seem shocking that the use of OxyContin for children between the ages of 11 and 16 has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ever since 2015. Of course, its use has proven to be beneficial for pediatric cancer patients. Unfortunately, some teenagers abuse and misuse such medications, more than often for recreational purposes, i.e. to get high. Hence, parents need to take precautions to ensure their prescription opioid medications do not get into the hands of their young and teenage children, while also throwing away pills that are leftover and no longer in use for medical reasons.

The availability of treatment needs to be improved too since one million American citizens above the age of 12 are suffering from a substance abuse disorder. Adolescents with depression are also among the frequent users of opioids. Adults who are currently taking prescription narcotic painkillers should store their medications out of the reach of their kids, especially if any of them has depression.


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