Opioids continuing to kill our children
For seven years, I testified before the New Jersey State Senate and NJ Assembly budget committees, as a member of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence for the 24th District on drug issues. Today, drugs, especially opioids are killing more children of all ages. CNN and other sources are reporting 9,000 pediatric deaths linked to opioids from 1999 through 2016. JAMA, a journal published by the American Medical Association, has noted that in an 18-year span, the mortality rate for youth due to opioid poisonings nearly tripled.
The realization is that opioid abuse is taking a toll on all segments of US society. We can see it in New Jersey where abuse has been so bad that urban centers are found with suburban police interdicting some of the abusers, but much abuse comes from prescriptions. The sad fact above is that this abuse is taking a toll on all segments of our population, but now even our pediatric population is impacted.
The frightening statistic that reaches out to me is that the number of children admitted to hospitals for opioid overdoses nearly doubled from 2004 to 2015. Of the 8,986 children that died from opioid poisonings over the 18-year period here are the breakouts:
1. 6,567 were males (about 73%)
2. 7,921 were adolescents (15 to 19)
3. Nearly 7 percent of deaths were children ages 0 to 4, while 4% were 10 to 14
4. Non-Hispanic white children and adolescents were 80% of those that died
5. 10 percent of deaths were Hispanic Youth, and 7% were Black youth
The data reveal how the rate of opioid usage is rising and killing children with many from largely prescriptions, and with 38 percent of the deaths occurring in homes. We need to step up our vigilance of-our children, and pray we can turn the corner on the rising death statistics.