Recent research has revealed that many children have been hospitalized due to opioid abuse caused by suicide attempts and accidental overdoses. Based on the estimates, these rates increased among young population under 19 from 1.4 / 100,000 kids in 1997 to 3,71 / 100,000 kids in 2012.
According to Dr. Julie Gaither, a Yale University public health expert, too many children across the country rely on opioids to deal with chronic and acute pain. She further adds that adolescents between 15 and 19 years old experienced an increase in opioid poisoning rates from 3.69 to 10.17 per 100,000 in recent years.
Apart from accidental overdoses, an increasing number of children use opioids not just to deal with pain but also to boost the alcohol effect, or to get high. Worse, scientists note that the most dangerous combination consists of mixing opioids with other drugs.
In children with ages under four years, opioid poisoning rates went up from 0.86 to 2.62 / 100,000, based on recent findings. Gaither underlines that such incidents occur among preschoolers and toddlers because they accidentally ingest these medications when an adult does not supervise them.
Specialists strongly recommend parents to make sure their kids cannot reach these opioid drugs. During the latest survey, scientists reviewed 13,052 pediatric hospitalizations caused by opioid abuse. It is worth mentioning that some teenagers were also using heroin.
They found out that 176 children died in the hospital due to opioid poisoning. Regarding teenagers, heroin poisoning increased from 0.96 to 2.51 / 100,000 kids, whereas methadone overdoses rose from 0.10 to 1.05 / 100,000.
Researchers also studied the intent behind each overdose and established that 16 were caused by suicide attempts or self-inflicted injuries among kids under ten years old between 1997 and 2012.
Concerning kids between 10 and 14 years old, the poisoning rates related to self-inflicted injuries or suicide attempts increased by around 37 percent in 2012, whereas accidental overdoses increased by 82 percent during the same period.
In adolescents between 15 and 19 years old, opioid poisonings linked to suicide attempts and self-inflicted injuries grew by a staggering 140 percent, whereas accidental overdoses almost tripled. Public health officials are concerned about this situation because these children and teenagers are part of the next generation.
Doctors hope that these rates will make parents more aware that they need to supervise and educate their children about the risks of opioid abuse.
Image Source: Star Tribune