Prescription Medicines and Children: America’s drug epidemic.

Opioid abuse in children

Sometimes children need medicine to help with pain after surgery or a surgical procedure. Prescription opioid medicines are incredibly effective in controlling pain. They work by blocking pain messages from reaching the brain.

There are risks to taking opioid pain medicines. They could cause serious undesired effects and bring about dependence, addiction, and overdose. The misuse of medicines has contributed to the opioid crisis in America. A huge selection of people die from opioid overdoses every day, and millions are fighting addiction.

You could be worried that your son or daughter could become addicted or be at risk for an overdose. By reading the info below and following the opioid safety checklist, you can provide your son or daughter opioid pain medicine as safely as possible.

Opioid Safety Checklist

  • Supply the opioids precisely as prescribed.
  • Give the opioids and then the person these were prescribed for.
  • Store the opioids in a locked cabinet from children, friends, and visitors.
  • Keep track of just how much medicine is in the container which means you know if another person is taking the medicine.
  • Safely remove any leftover opioids when your child no more needs them.
  • Speak to your children about the risks of taking medicines that aren’t prescribed for them.

Opioid pain medicines approved for children and teens include:

  • hydrocodone with acetaminophen liquid (Hycet®) and pills (Vicodin® and Lortab®)
  • oxycodone with acetaminophen liquid (Roxicet®) and pills (Percocet®)
  • hydromorphone liquid and pills (Dilaudid®)
  • morphine liquid and pills
  • oxycodone liquid and pills
  • others – Ask your medical provider if your son or daughter is approved an opioid pain medicine that’s not on this list.

WHAT EXACTLY ARE the Risks of Opioid Pain Medicines?
Someone who takes an opioid pain medicine for a couple of days might notice undesired effects like sleepiness, constipation, itching, and stomach upset. When opioids are taken as directed, these undesired effects could possibly be inconvenient but aren’t dangerous.

If opioids are taken for longer, there are other risks, including:

  • creating a tolerance (needing more opioid for the same treatment)
  • physical dependence (having symptoms of withdrawal when the opioid is stopped)
  • addiction (when someone has very good cravings and continues to take an opioid though it causes problems with health, relationships, and money)
  • Someone reliant on opioids would like to get more when the prescription runs out. This might bring about inappropriate or risky behavior, such as for example lying to a health care provider to have a new prescription, buying opioids from a pal, stealing opioids from friends or family, or buying and using street drugs.

Taking an excessive amount of an opioid or mixing it with other drugs and/or alcohol can bring about overdose and death.

Could My Child Become Dependent on Opioids?
Most kids and teens who take opioids for a short while as instructed by physician don’t get addicted. For example, a teenager who has surgery or a broken bone and takes an opioid as approved is very unlikely to be addicted.

Why Do I have to SECURE the Opioids?
Sometimes persons take opioids approved for someone else. For instance, a teen usually takes a younger sibling’s medicine or someone usually takes a friend’s opioid to control pain, anxiety, or sleep issues. They might feel that prescription opioid medicines are safer than street drugs because healthcare providers prescribe them.

But prescription opioids can bring about serious unwanted effects, addiction, and overdose. Keeping the opioids locked up can help make certain they’re taken only by the individual they were approved for.

How Can You Safely Get rid of Unused Medicine?
Ask your medical provider or pharmacist how exactly to safely remove any unused medicine. They may recommend that you flush the medicine, mix it with coffee grounds and then throw it away, or take it to a drug take-back program. The FDA has more information.

How Can I Help Prevent Opioid Addiction in Our Family?
Talk to your kids about using medicines safely. Tell them that prescription pain medicines are safe only when prescribed by a health care provider and may be dangerous or addictive if used in any other way. Set a good example by never taking medicine that wasn’t recommended for you.

How Do I Get Help for Someone With a DRUG ABUSE Problem?
Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This free and confidential service comes in English and Spanish.

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