A new study published by Pediatrics shows another way America’s opioid epidemic has harmed children. According to the study, more than 188,000 phone calls to poison control centers between January, 2000 and December, 2015 involved children being harmed by opioid medications. The study authors claimed this number amounted to one phone call every 45 minutes.
Almost 60 percent of the phone calls involved children five years old and younger. In these cases, children took opioid medications that had been left out. Other cases involved children who swiped medications from family members. Prescription opioid medications are especially harmful to young children. Due to their lower body weight, these drugs can be fatal.
Some of these cases may be attributed to overprescribing opioid medications. Patients may have received more medication than they needed. For example, a patient can receive a prescription that lasts for two weeks despite having a health problem that requires pain relief for several days. Medications from past prescriptions can sit unused in medicine cabinets until they are discovered by children.
Can Children Become Addicted to Prescription Opioids?
The Pediatrics study shows adults are not the only people harmed by overprescribing. Not all cases of children accessing these medications result in phone calls to poison control centers. Teenagers may take these drugs and become addicted. New research published by the Centers for Disease Control shows people can become addicted after taking opioids for several days. When children take just a few pills from the medicine cabinet, it may forever alter the course of their lives.
Drug manufacturers pushed for these medications to be used for chronic pain and other long-term health conditions. Powerful opioid medications were initially designed for end-of-life care and severe acute pain. The actions of drug manufacturers have destroyed homes and lives. People harmed by America’s prescription drug epidemic deserve the chance to seek justice.