More than Quarter Opioid Overdoses Involves Teens  

One in four cases of opioid overdoses involves kids and teenagers in the United States and almost a dull fifth of such cases were likely suicide attempts.

New research revealed that more than a quarter of opioid overdoses cases involves teens in America. The outcomes of the study followed an in-depth analysis of about 754,000 American opioid overdoses that were reported to the U.S. National Poison Data System between 2005 and 2018. Around 208,000 of those poisoning cases involved children age 18 years or younger.

A pediatric care fellow at Emory University’s School of Medicine and a study author, Dr. Megan Land said the pediatric opioid overdose landscape has become worse during the 13-year study period.

She said that significantly the proportion of teens with suspected suicide attempts due to opioid overdoses increased dramatically over the study period. It has risen from 14% in 2005 to above 21% by 2018.  She said that such an increase shows that the incidence rate and rate of suicide attempts due to opioid poisoning have been increasing since 2011.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have shared the detail about opioids and adolescents.

Also read- Four Ways to Control Global Opioid Epidemic

The preliminary study outcomes also revealed that the percentage of young patients admitted to the intensive care unit following an opioid overdose rose from 6.6% to 9.6% during the same period.

Likewise, by 2018 the risk that young patients following opioid poisoning would end up with a major disability or end up in life-threatening conditions has increased from .10% to.13%. Also, the risk of death due to overdoses rose from .18% in 2005 to about .28% in 2018.

She shared that on a more positive note, the trend has been going in the downward direction since 2010 when the percentage of pediatric opioid overdose cases went to the peak. But most of the trends are less encouraging. The researchers observed that opioids are becoming more potent with time so even the smaller doses have the potential to cause poisoning or overdose.

Even the state-based legislative efforts to promote the greater use of lifesaving antidote naloxone which is anti-opioid, apparently have had only limited success. The drug usage increased slightly only from 42% to 51% during the study time period.

Still, the suicide attempts to account for only the part of risks associated with opioid overdoses among young Americans. Above half of the overdose cases in the study among young children involved preschoolers who had ingested an opioid drug accidentally.

Also read- Shifting to medical marijuana may help solve the US opioid crisis

So, how to avoid opioid overdoses? Three medical experts who were not part of the study gave some suggestions.

An emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, Dr. Robert Glatter said that it is fundamental to educate our children about the risks and dangers associated with opioids and tell them how even the experimentation can cause addiction.

He added that school curriculums should include open communication, guidance counselors for monitoring the adolescents for signs of atypical behavior, oppositional attitudes, and falling grades.

The director of policy research Linda Ritcher with the Center on Addiction said that it is never too early for protecting children from the life-threatening harms of addictive substances. She highlighted different practical recommendations by the center including keeping all kinds of prescription medicines out of the children’s reach and banning the illegal drugs altogether.

The medical director of Maryland Medical Center, Dr. Marc Fishman said that the parents and families should be aware of the risks associated with an opioid, and they need to be vigilant to safely supplies safely to prevent a child’s access and to avoid opioid poisoning.

He added that the families must watch evidence of common psychiatric illness in youngsters such as depression and anxiety. He said youth suicide is real, too common but it is preventable.


Amna Rana

Amna Rana, a writing enthusiast and a microbiologist. Her areas of interest are medical and health care. She writes about diseases, treatments, alternative therapies, lifestyles and the latest news. You can find her on Linkedin Amna Rana.

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