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Some of the Youngest Opioid Victims Are Curious Toddlers

You’d just about have to be asleep today not to know that opioid addiction and deaths from overdoses have become epidemic in the U.S. But were you aware that some of the youngest victims of this scourge are toddlers? According to Fox News, the number of children who find the pills in their homes and subsequently eat them — and die — is growing.

It’s horrific enough that adults are dying in record numbers from opioids, but when children become involved, it’s past time to stop the madness. More Americans now use prescription opioids than smoke cigarettes. Opiates such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and morphine also kill more Americans than car crashes each year.

Not only that, as opioid acquisition became more expensive, many people resorted to heroin, a cheaper way of getting high. Thus, heroin use more than doubled in 18- to 25-year-olds between 2002 and 2011, as a direct result of prescription opioid addiction among young patients. Sadly, only 1 in 10 addicts receive the help they need, and those who do get into treatment typically face long wait times. About one-third can’t afford it, or don't have insurance for it.

There's still an enormous amount of work to be done to turn this epidemic around, but part of the answer is to become an educated patient, and to never fill that opioid prescription in the first place. The drug industry and prescribing doctors must also acknowledge their role and take responsibility for its resolution, including considering medical cannabis as a safe alternative. Even U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has acknowledged that marijuana may be useful in certain conditions.
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