Monday, October 16, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has cast a grim new light on America’s opioid crisis. The organization found that hospitals in the United States attend more than 100 children and teenagers a day who are already hooked on opioids, reported DailyMail.co.uk.
The researchers based this estimate on their retrospective analysis of 2008 to 2013 data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample. By combing through the database, they discovered that the number of under-21 patients admitted into the emergency room and diagnosed with opioid dependency or addiction rose drastically during the five-year period.
From 32,235 patients in 2008, the figure rocketed to 49,626 in 2013. This means that the average of 85 children and teenagers a day in 2008 jumped to 135 a day five years later. Of those who entered the emergency room, 88.3 percent were aged 18 to 21, and 8.4 percent were aged 16 to 17. Moreover, 200 children and teenagers died in the emergency room, while 325 died during the course of hospitalization.
However, the researchers behind the report acknowledged that the numbers could actually be higher in reality since it’s highly unlikely that every addicted child was screened by doctors.
Dr. Veerajalandhar Allareddy, study co-author and medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, said that he and his team were “taken aback by the magnitude” of the problem, then added that their research is only “skimming the surface.”
He further stated that every child brought to the emergency room should be screened for addiction, and emphasized the need for parental intervention if parents suspect that their child may be playing around with drugs.
“If it at all is a concern, a discussion needs to happen. This was intended to be an exploratory study — one that we hope will help alert the public, researchers, and policymakers of the need to fully define and address this important, emerging public health problem among children in the U.S.,” said Allareddy. (Related: Opioid abuse causing a terrifying spike in infant dependency, especially in rural areas.)
In addition to sending more children and teenagers to the emergency room, the opioid crisis has claimed several lives as well. Last August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out a report about the rise of drug overdose-related deaths for those between the ages of 15 and 19. From 1999 to 2015, these rates more than doubled, with the number coming up to 772 deaths among older teenagers in 2015.
This too came as a surprise to the researchers, as the rate of drug overdose deaths dipped to 26 percent between 2007 and 2014, only for it to increase by a fifth the following year. Furthermore, while the rate of teenage boys overdosing has dropped, the number for teenage girls remained the same and even grew larger within the last two years.
These figures, combined with the fact that over half a million Americans died of drug overdoses between 2000 and 2014, prompted President Donald Trump to deem the opioid crisis a “national emergency.”
To remain abreast of all news relating to the opioid crisis, go to Addiction.news today.