Prescription opioid abuse in teens

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It happens every 45 minutes and it involves kids and something that you might have in your medicine cabinet.

We've been telling you about a new study by Central Ohio Poison Centers. Researchers found that every 45 minutes, a call comes into poison control about a child exposed to prescription opioids.

60 percent of these calls involve kids under 5-years-old. We focused on that particular finding in a story that aired last week.

Prescription opioid exposure among kids

40 percent of these cases involve teenagers. Unlike the younger ones who accidentally come in contact with these drugs, the majority of teenagers are taking the pills on purpose.

"Abuse, where they were stealing it to get high and suicide attempts. Both these cases take really large doses, not just one or two," explains Henry Spiller of the Central Ohio Poison Centers. He was one of the authors of this new study.

Researchers found that 32 times a day, poison control centers across the country are getting a call about a child exposed to prescription opioids. The information was recently published in the journal Pediatrics.

"The volume of this, this is really occurring, this is really something you need to go back to your house and pay attention to," says Spiller.

Spiller says the vast majority of these cases happen in the home, mainly with leftover pills that were never taken. He says the key now is to educate parents about the importance of locking up your prescriptions.

"They know where you keep your medicine. They may not get it today, but they've been looking at you for two, three years, that's where mom keeps her medicine, that's where dad keeps his medicine."

And Spiller says this goes for all parents, even if your kids are not teenagers yet.

"Once they hit that age when their friends want to experiment, this is where they're getting it."

Besides keeping prescriptions locked up, experts also recommend talking to your children about the dangers of prescription drugs.

As for suicide attempts, experts say parents should look for warning signs like a change in eating or sleep habits, a change in friendships as well as a drop in grades.

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