Parents Conflicted About Opioid Use in Children

Most parents know about alternatives to opioids, but just over a third ask about them

THURSDAY, Feb. 7, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Parents are conflicted about the use of prescribed opioids in children, with most concerned about side effects and risks but believing opioids are the most effective option for managing pain, according to a survey commissioned by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and released to coincide with Physician Anesthesiologists Week, held from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2.

The 17-question Engine CARAVAN Omnibus Survey was conducted online between Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, 2018. Respondents were 1,007 parents of children aged 13 to 24 years. If their children were ever prescribed opioids, parents were asked to respond based on the most recent prescription. If their children were never prescribed opioids, parents were asked to respond based on their oldest child aged 13 to 24 years.

The researchers found that one-third of children had been prescribed opioids. The majority (88 percent) of parents recognized that nonopioid, over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin, can effectively help treat pain, but only 37 percent of parents whose children were prescribed opioids asked about alternatives. While 83 percent of parents believe they are prepared to safely manage their child's opioid use if prescribed, only 50 percent said they stored or would store opioids in a safe and secure place (e.g., not a medicine cabinet) and only 39 percent of all parents disposed or would dispose of leftover opioids as recommended. The majority of parents (74 percent) have had a conversation with their child about the dangers of abusing medications.

"It's critical that we recognize the gaps in opioid knowledge and work to correct them, ensuring everyone understands how to use them safely and minimize their risks," Linda J. Mason, M.D., president of the ASA, said in a statement. "A physician anesthesiologist or other pain management specialist can help parents address their child's pain and decrease the risk of opioid misuse and addiction."

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