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Why Is the Opioid Overdose Rate Increasing in Children?

Opioid addiction can easily be called one of the biggest drug problems currently affecting society. Many of us have seen recent photographs of young children in the care of parents who have overdosed on drugs. This is tragic in itself. But even sadder is the fact that children are becoming accidentally poisoned by opioids. In fact, the rate of such accidental overdoses has more than doubled in the past 15 years.

Children suffer in many ways when the adults in their lives are addicted to drugs. Opioid addicts may leave prescription bottles within access of children, which makes accidental overdose possible. Here’s what you need to know about this increasing problem and how drug abuse rehab centers can help.

The Epidemic of Opioid Overdose

Opioid Overdose Rate

Children of opioid addicts are at high risk of accidental overdose.

Recent research at Yale University showed that the number of hospitalizations of children and adolescents for opioid poisoning doubled between 1997 and 2012. This reflects a bigger problem showing how widespread abuse of these drugs has become.

Other recent statistics now show that there are now more adults taking prescription opioids than using tobacco. The widespread abuse of opioids provides many more opportunities for children and teens to come into contact with these dangerous drugs. In some cases, authorities may need to be involved to ensure the safety of young children who are living with active addicts.

Opioid Abuse in Adolescents

Opioid medications such as Norco or Oxycontin are particularly easy to obtain because they’re used so widely. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teens are much more likely to use opioids along with other substances. Addiction becomes more likely when using opioids along with alcohol, marijuana or anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax. The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens reports that after alcohol and marijuana, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused substances by Americans age 14 and older.

The biggest difference between child and adolescent opioid overdose is that children are exposed to the drug by accident. In teens, the drug use is intentional. It may begin with a legitimate prescription for pain relief, which can precede addiction to the drugs. Sometimes the addiction to opioids is a matter of substance abuse and never had a valid purpose. Teens may think that taking pills is harmless. However, they may not understand how easy it is to become addicted to opioids. Because teens’ brains are still developing, they are more susceptible to addiction.

Teen drug abuse can have a damaging effect on the entire family. Teens may steal (including from family members), cause fights with other family members, fail to meet scheduled commitments and get in trouble with the law. A teen’s addiction hurts themselves as well as those who love them.

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Healing Children and the Family

Addictions don’t just affect the one who abuses substances. Drug and alcohol addiction affects families, children and communities. At this point, opioid addiction is so widespread that there is not a community in the United States that isn’t dealing with the issue. People of all ages can become addicted, from teens to seniors.

We don’t have to accept the negative effects of addiction in our communities anymore. Drug abuse rehab centers provide excellent opportunities for addicts and their families to get help. Many rehab centers offer family counseling, which can help the children of addicts to recover as well. Children of addicts can benefit from counseling to help them deal with what they have seen.

There is life after addiction and our families deserve to experience wholeness. If someone you love needs help, call our helpline today at 800-256-3490 to begin the path to healing.

Adults and Addiction: Your Child Isn’t the Only One

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