The opioid epidemic that has broken out in the United States in the last several decades has recently taken a turn for the worse; opioid poisoning is now affecting increasing numbers of children and youth. According to a recent study from the JAMA Network, pediatric hospitalizations for opioid poisoning increased by nearly two hundred percent from 1997 to 2012. In other words, children and youth became nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized for an overdose of opioid medication. There is a rising problem in the link between children and opioid poisoning. How does it relate to the opioid epidemic in the United States, and what can be done about it?
If you or a loved one is struggling with opioids, quitting now can improve the future. You’ll reduce the risk of children and adolescents getting their hands on drugs and facing the consequences of addiction. Plus, you’ll be able to build a better future for yourself without drugs. Trying to quit alone can be challenging, even dangerous, at times. Northpoint Recovery is here to help. Call 208.486.0130 or contact us online to learn more about how our treatment programs relieve people impacted by the opioid epidemic.
What Is the Opioid Epidemic in the United States?
The opioid epidemic in the United States refers to the sharp increase in prescription opioids starting two decades before the addictive nature of opioids was truly understood. As a result, addiction to prescription medication is an ongoing—and ever-increasing—issue in the United States. Some of the statistics regarding opioid misuse show this disturbing reality:
- Over 47,000 Americans died as a result of overdose in 2014, the vast majority from opioids
- In the fifteen years between 1999 and 2014, opioid sales quadrupled
- In 2014, close to thirty-thousand people in the United States died as a direct result of opioid overdose
Opioid Poisoning Is Reaching Children and Youth
The study from the JAMA Network examined the rate of hospitalizations due to opioid poisoning among youth aged one through 19 between 1997 and 2012. Altogether, the study found that the annual rate of this subset of hospitalizations rose by 165%. The report also found that most cases of opioid poisoning occurred by accident among children under ten. In addition to these accidental overdoses among young children, there was a high rate of both accidental overdose and suicide attempts among teens in the study.
Opioid drug misuse, addiction, and overdose are most commonly seen as an issue that only affects adults. This stems from the fact that most opioid prescriptions are for adults rather than adolescents or children. However, the fact that the rate of hospitalization in children and teens has nearly doubled shows how much the opioid epidemic in the United States truly affects the younger population. Particularly troubling is that out of all the trends highlighted in the study, the rate of hospitalizations due to opioid poisoning rose the sharpest among very young children between the ages of one to four. For these children, the incidence rose by over 200%.
How to Break the Link Between Children and Opioid Poisoning
The study discussed here, and many other research findings make it clear that the opioid epidemic in the United States is a serious issue that must be addressed at both the policy and personal levels. One of the best ways to decrease the impact of opioid poisoning is to change the prevailing attitudes toward opioid medication. Moving forward, consider adopting and sharing the following standpoints:
- Opioid medication should not be considered a routine way to address pain
- Opioid medication should be given in the smallest dose possible and for the shortest amount of time possible
- Opioid medication should never be self-prescribed
- Opioid medication should be kept in a safe space, well out of the reach of children to avoid opioid poisoning
In short, changing the prevailing perspective on the normalcy of opioid medication can help reduce the prevalence of opioid poisoning around the United States.
Opioid Addiction Treatment at Northpoint Recovery
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, Northpoint Recovery can help. We offer a variety of evidence-based treatment options, such as:
- Inpatient rehab
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Medical intervention
- Relapse prevention