Poison control centers across the U.S. are receiving at least one call every 45 minutes from frantic parents and others who call in after a child got access to opiods.
According to a study published in the AAP News & Journals Gateway, poison control centers received 188,000 calls across the nation from January 2000 through December 2015, after teens and children were exposed to opioids, a strong prescription medication used for severe pain. Around 60% of the minors exposed to opioids were under the age of five, and teens accounted for 30% of the calls.
While the younger children typically the ingest drug accidentally, teens are purposely taking opioids in an attempt to “get high.” Opioids are in a class of narcotic medications called opiates. When taken in excess, the medication can cause a euphoric feeling. The euphoric feeling is coupled with sedation and pain relief. However, taking opioids without a prescription and/or in excess of what a physician prescribes can lead physical dependence, liver damage, brain damage, nausea, vomiting, extreme abdominal bloating, and even death.
Children under five face the greatest risk of injury when swallowing opioids. According to Marcel Casavant, the study’s author and and chief toxicologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, young kids generally find the medication in unlocked medicine cabinets. He urged parents to become more proactive in ensuring their kids have no access to medications.
“When adults bring these medications into their homes, they can become a danger to the children that live there. It is important that these medications are stored up, away and out of sight of kids of all ages, in a locked cabinet is best.”
If you suspect your child is taking opiods or ingested a medication not intended for them, use the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ online help line, or call 1-800-222-1222 for immediate assistance.