Finally, our president came out and said that the opioid crisis is a “public health emergency.” He didn’t, however, formally declare it a “national emergency,” which means that federal funds won’t currently be allocated to addressing and fighting this crisis.
Last year, opioid addiction was responsible for more than 59,000 deaths in our country, and that number continues to rise.
It seems that everyone, in some way, has been touched by the opioid epidemic, and families across the country and right here in in Florida can’t escape the struggle. Children have also been affected by opioids, and their exposure to the drug can cause both serious and harmful consequences.
Let’s explore how the opioid problem has hit children and how you might be able to fight back if your child was injured while being negligently exposed to the drug.
How Have Opioids Affected Children?
Every year, almost 12,000 children and teens mistakenly take some kind of opioid drug.
Dr. Gary Smith from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and other colleagues looked at poison control center data and found, according to their report in Pediatrics, that “from 2000 through 2015, poison control centers reported 188,468 opioid exposures among children aged under 20 years old, averaging 11,779 exposures annually or 14.34 exposures per 100,000 children.”
That amounts to over 30 calls every day.
They went on to write that the current leading cause of “injury-related mortality” in the U.S. is unintentional poisonings. Teens especially saw “a 91 percent increase in fatal poisoning…mostly attributable to an increase in prescription drug overdoses.”
Teens tend to use the drugs on purpose, and a different study in Pediatrics also found that a majority of teens who abuse opioids were originally given a valid prescription for the drug.
Younger children tend to find pills on accident and unknowingly ingest the addictive drug. Many children who live with someone addicted to opioids are often exposed to buprenorphine, a prescription drug used to help with opioid addiction. Ninety percent of these cases involve children under five years old.
Being exposed to opioids at a young age can cause long-term consequences, including further use of illegal drugs down the line. Nearly “80 percent of new heroin users” have previously used opioid drugs for pain.
What If My Child Was Exposed to Opioids?
There are a number of proposed solutions to safeguard children from being exposed to opioids. The most important and easiest one is keeping the drug away from your child so they don’t have access to it in the first place. Another option might be to package pills individually so children are unable to grab a bunch of pills at once.
While you might be able to prevent children from being exposed to opioids in your own household, though, it can be difficult to control every environment your child might find him or herself in. For that reason, it’s important to teach your kids how to be safe if they ever come into contact with an unidentified pill or medication.
Sometimes, though, your best efforts just aren’t enough. If you discover your child has suffered from opioid exposure due to someone else’s negligence, you might be able to seek damages. Reach out to an experienced Florida child injury lawyer today to discuss your case and determine if your family is entitled to compensation.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.