Child opioid overdoses are on the rise

Mar 9, 2018

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The latest edition of the Journal Pediatrics says the number of children hospitalized for opioid overdoses has almost doubled since 2004.

Even worse, more than 40 percent of the kids who overdose end up in intensive care. Sixty-percent of those overdosing fall between the ages of 12 and 17 suggesting that most cases don’t happen by accident.

Credit tbi

Dr. Nita Shumaker is a Chattanooga Pediatrician and current President of the Tennessee Medical Association. Dr. Shoemaker says she routinely talks with parents about making sure children can’t get at their medications.  

She notes there are lots of ways to safely dispose of leftover pills.

“Any opioid medication can be disposed of by crushing it and putting it in old coffee grounds and/or cat litter and throwing it in the trash. You can take it back to most Walgreens… and you can take it to police stations.”

Dr. Shumaker has made reducing opioid use a priority of her term as the Tennessee Medical Association’s president and says her member doctors are working toward that goal.

“Substantial progress in decreasing both the amount of prescriptions and the amount of morphine equivalents (strength) that we are prescribing. So I’m really proud of the progress made and we’re only starting.”

Dr. Shumaker says she’s seeing more and more studies that indicate that some over-the-counter medications can be just as effective as opioids at relieving some types of pain.

She encourages patients to question their doctors about alternatives anytime an opioid is suggested.