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Helping Children Affected by Adult Opioid Abuse

Casanueva, Cecilia.; Smith, Keith.; Harris, Sarah.; Carr, Christine.; Burfeind, Chelsea – 2018

The Opioid Crisis. Since 2000, the number of deaths related to opioid overdoses has increased 200% [2, 3], killing more than 42,000 people in 2016 [4]. Oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and fentanyl are all opioids that are prescribed to alleviate pain (e.g., after surgery). Heroin, an illegal drug, is an opioid made from morphine [1]. Recent data show that after surgery, with every week a person takes a painkiller like oxycodone or hydrocodone, there is an increase in the rate of misuse of 44% [5]. Such regular use of opioids can build tolerance to the drug, which leads to the user needing higher doses. For some people, lack of access to prescription opioids may ultimately lead to heroin use [1]. Factors driving opioid misuse and overdose are like those associated with the misuse of other drugs. These include self-medication of physical or mental pain, history of posttraumatic stress disorder, history of childhood maltreatment, sexual abuse, witnessing violence, and lower socioeconomic status [6, 7].