A new study by the researchers of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that the majority of homes with children in the United States do not follow safe storage norms when it comes to storing prescription pain medications. Using the Health Belief Model, the researchers determined the association between beliefs and safe storage practices. They also defined the concept of “safe storage” as locked or latched for younger children and as locked for older children.
The study found that only 31 percent of the surveyed population with children aged 17 or less at home stored prescription opioid medications away from the kids. The outlook is bleaker at homes with children aged seven to 17 years, where the study found that only 12 percent of the respondents stored these medications safely. The findings highlight the increased prevalence of unsafe storage of prescription opioid medication and lack of awareness about safe storage practices.
Due to the dramatic increase in the rate of prescription of opioids, the risk of overdose and many a time even death increases due to the presence of opioid painkillers in homes. The risk was more pronounced in the case of women with young children compared to other proportions of the population, according to another study by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Unsafe storage may lead to accidental ingestion, pilferage
The study found that approximately 73 percent of respondents agreed that children are more likely to overdose on opioids than adults. Furthermore, unsafe storage practices may lead to accidental ingestion of prescription opioids among younger children and stealing among older children for recreational purposes.
While a majority agreed that overdose is very probable, only 13 percent of respondents said that they “worry” about the opioid medications being accessed by their children. Parents of older children were found to be significantly less likely to worry whether medications were accessible to their children than the parents of younger children.
The use of prescription opioids among children has increased remarkably and many of the users access them from home, especially high school students. The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) termed opioids as the second most used illicit drugs among older children (12 to 17) after marijuana.
The study is important because it shows that there is a lack of seriousness among parents about the severe effects of opioid abuse. Since the number of deaths and emergency room (ER) visits has gone up dramatically among children, it calls for a serious effort and a concerted approach to diminish the accessibility of opioids among children.
Moreover, overdose fatalities have nearly doubled between 1999 and 2015 among children in the age group of 17 and below. Over 600,000 children in the age group were treated in the U.S. emergency departments in the last five years. The sheer data is conducive enough for taking immediate actions by all concerned people to reduce opioid abuse among children.
Need for holistic treatment
It is important to educate families about the need and importance of storing pills safely. New technology, such as “smart” packaging, prevents children from accessing the leftover or unsafely stored pills. Despite many gaps in the current storage practices, parents and guardians in all situations must be watchful and alert to not let their children from accessing the medicines. Such measures can save many young lives.
Prescription opioids are a threat for anyone who misuses it. While these medications can help in effectively managing extreme pain, they are also prone to creating many problems caused by misuse. Opioids are addictive and can cause even death due to overdose. The best way to avert any risk is to stay away from opioid addiction.
If you know someone who may be addicted to opioids, contact the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline to access a prescription drug abuse treatment clinic in the U.S. To know more, you can chat online or call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-450-1557. We are the best resource related to information on the prescription drug abuse treatment centers in the U.S.