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How/Why Are Children Overdosing on Opioids?

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Children are overdosing on opioids, but it’s not something that’s being mentioned often. The media often mentions the opioid epidemic regarding addiction that lands people on the streets. The current addiction epidemic is taking place in communities that house lower to middle-class residents. Few news reports tell us about the people who love the addicted that live under the roof each home. Often there are spouses, babies, children, and pets in families affected by opioid addiction.

In 3 and four bedroom homes in counties across America, children are becoming victims of the opioid epidemic in depressing ways. Almost 900 children have died from opiate overdoses since 1999, according to a new study conducted by Julie Gaither, an instructor at the Yale School of Medicine.

Causes of Overdoses

Using numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and other data sources, they were able to discover the types of deaths children suffer through opioids.

Many children accidentally took the drugs, while others were poisoned or took them recreationally. Some of the teens who overdosed did so as an intentional act of suicide.

From 1999 through 2016, over 9,000 children and teens died from poisonings from either prescription or illicit opioids. Many of the older teens were using drugs they had swiped from adults. About 148 of the minors killed by opioid overdose were murders.

Simple Prevention and Harm Reduction

Some simple harm reduction could go a long way toward preventing overdose deaths. Always lock prescription opioid drugs away and dispose of unused pills. (Your pharmacist will probably have a special envelope with instructions for you to use. Just ask next time you’re at the pharmacy.)

Always ask for childproof containers for your medications.

Most of the children who died from the drug could have been saved if their home was equipped with Narcan and a person in the family was aware of drugs in the house. Many communities now offer Narcan training.

It’s ideal that if anyone in a household takes opioids (or had an opioid addiction they’re recovering from), Narcan should be in the house as well. Your local fire department may have information on free Narcan classes. At least one person in your home should get training to use it.