A new study finds a majority of parents who take prescription opioids do not properly store the pills, increasing the risks of children taking and overdosing on the drugs.
The research study, from Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, says roughly 70 percent of parents prescribed pain medications like Oxycontin, Vicidone and Percocet are not taking responsible precautions to keep the pills away from their children. The authors of the study note children between the ages of seven and 17 are the most at risk for finding and experimenting with pills around their home, but advise all parents to take precautions, reports WBAL.
The problem is thought to be behind an uptick in the number of overdose cases doctors are seeing in young children. A separate study from researchers in Canada found young children of mothers prescribed opioids had double the risk of suffering an accidental overdose.
“It wouldn’t be at all surprising for a two or three-year-old to find a tablet and put it in his or her mouth,” Dr. David Juurlink, a senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, told Global News. “It’s important to understand that a single tablet could kill a small child. These are very dangerous drugs at the high end of the dose range.”
Opioids claimed a record number of lives in 2015, eclipsing deaths in auto accidents and contributing to the first drop in U.S. life expectancy since 1993. The substance accounts for roughly 80 percent of drug fatalities. The U.S. suffered the deadliest year on record for fatal drug overdoses, which claimed 52,404 lives in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite the pervasiveness of the opioid epidemic, parents are generally not concerned about their children finding or taking prescription medications.
Nearly 73 percent of parents surveyed by Johns Hopkins researchers acknowledged kids are at a greater risk of overdose from prescription opioids than adults, but only 13 percent said they worry about their kids accessing and abusing their prescription pills.
Even more alarming, parents of older children said they are less worried than parents of younger children, despite the fact many opioid addictions start when teens experiment with pain pills in high school.
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