Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
Medical Guide 2019 Spring
- Page 11
What parents should know about Opiods and Kids
By Melissa Erickson
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Opioid abuse and addiction are frighteningly real issues especially for parents, who often have a conflicting relationship with the painkillers. While parents are concerned about allowing their kids to use opioids, nearly two-thirds feel that they are the most effective treatment for managing pain after surgery or a broken bone, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

“Prescription opioids are among the most effective analgesics available to treat pain,” said Connie Monitto, an assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “They are normally prescribed only when pain cannot be adequately treated by other medicines alone. While generally safe when taken as directed, opioids should only be used when needed as they can cause side effects and be habit-forming with long-term use.”

The danger of opioid abuse and overdose is well-known, and 90 percent of opioid addictions start in the teen years, according to ASA.

In recent years, there’s been a steady decline in opioid prescriptions for children and teens.

“Between 1994 and 2007, the number of visits to a doctor’s office that resulted in opioid prescriptions for adolescents nearly doubled, but data suggests that the prevalence of prescription opioid use among children has been trending downward since 2010,” Monitto said. “While this could be related to increased awareness of the risk of opioid addiction, we don’t know that for sure.”

Alternatives exist

Parents should know that safe and effective alternatives to opioids are available and should work with their child’s physician to discuss options as well as side effects and risks.

“When a child is in pain from an injury, disease or recent surgery, parents should talk to their child’s physician about what they should expect in terms of the severity and duration of pain and try to set realistic goals for managing it,” Monitto said.

Sometimes over-the-counter medicines like Motrin or Tylenol work well enough, Monitto said. Alternatives that should be included in pain management plans to enhance comfort and reduce the need for opioids include numbing medicines, cool and warm packs, meditation or massage, or walking and activity, Monitto said.

In other cases of moderate to severe pain, opioids are a necessary and valuable tool, she said.

How to dispose
Safe storage and disposal of opioids is key because more than half of people who misuse prescribed opioids get them from a friend or relative, according to ASA.

“Opioid medicines should be stored in a locked location where others cannot easily access them. They should not be shared with other people and when they are no longer needed, they should be disposed of,” Monitto said.

Take leftover opioids to a pharmacy that provides a take-back program. Contact your city or county government or visit takebackday.dea.gov.

To dispose of opioids at home, make them unusable by removing pills or liquid medicine from original containers and mixing them with an unwanted substance such as dirt, kitty litter or dish soap, Monitto said. Place the mixture in a disposable container with a lid and thrown out in household trash, but first remove personal information from the empty medicine bottles.

“The risk of opioid misuse, abuse and addiction is a major source of concern for us all, and no one can deny the tragic consequences of the opioid epidemic. However, it remains the responsibility of physicians who care for children to provide their patients with adequate relief of pain caused by surgery, injuries and medical illnesses,” Monitto said.