Children’s exposure to addictive drugs rises by 215%

Opioids are extremely addictive painkillers. Kids exposure to these addictive substances has risen by a shocking 215% in just three years. It’s commonly known that illegal opioids, as well as prescription ones, get regularly abused by their users. This type of opioid medication actually binds to specific areas of the brain which oversea emotion and pain.

The opioid medications then inhibit this area of the brain and drives up the levels of hormones that make us feel good. One of these is called dopamine. As the levels of dopamine increase in reward areas of the brain, it manufactures a highly intense euphoric feeling. As this feels like a quick fix, people are easily lead to wanting to try it out and gradually become addicted to the medications.

Peoples brains latch onto the feeling of euphoria and it eventually means that the user has to take a higher dosage of the drug to feel any different. For the user to experience the same kind of highs, wellbeing and pain relief from opioids, they have to use a much higher amount; this in effect causes a brutal dependence and further addiction to having the substances in their system.

According to recent reports: “More than 11,200 calls concerning children’s exposure to buprenorphine, an opioid medication used to treat opioid use disorder, were made to US poison control centers from 2007 to 2016, a new study found. Eighty-six percent of the exposures were in children below the age of 6; 89% of the exposures were unintentional.”. This is extremely worrying, especially when coupled with the fact that experts advocate that these opioid should never be prescribed to any children under 6.

Henry Spillo, who is the acting director at the Central Ohio Poison Center, recently published a journal discussing this issue in the journal of Pediatrics. He says that he believes some parents are educated incorrectly and think that these opiates wont has as much of an effect on their children as other similar opiates do. They are incorrect in this assumption. He adds that children will often reach for the product when they see it displayed at home, and advocated that all medicines should be kept well out of reach of young people.

The leader of a study into child opioid overdose cases said the following about the issue: “This is not the first study to show these data, but it is the latest study to show a medication whose design it is to help adults with narcotic or opioid addiction is ending up poisoning, mostly unintentionally, children and in particular those who are most vulnerable,”. Kane lead the study back in 2004 and was horrified to see it only increase over time.

Notably, adolescents seem to struggle with this more than young children. But, for the number of people who aren’t legally allowed to buy the substances to be addicted and exposed to the drug to increase 215% in just three years is horrifying. It’s unclear how the government and different organisations plan to tackle the well-known opioid addiction issue; however something drastic needs to be done to keep it out of the hands of children. Educating parents is one way to start so that the conversation can continue on from there.