Prescription Painkillers Poisoning Alaskans, Including Children
Alaskans overdosing at alarming rate, according to report
ANCHORAGE - A new report says Alaskans are overdosing on prescription painkillers at an alarming rate. And some of the victims are children.
Over the last decade, hundreds of Alaskans have been hospitalized for overdosing on prescription painkillers. Those drugs are also sending a lot of children to the hospital due to accidental ingestion and poisoning.
Epidemiologists with the state of Alaska say that, over the last ten years, kids 5 and under represent the biggest group of accidental poisonings from painkillers like oxycodone.
Randi Sweet with the Alaska Safe Medicine Alliance, a group that works to dispose of medications safely, said parents need to secure their medications in a way that children can't get them, and remember that even a single pill could prove deadly for a small child.
“Medication is provided based on your size,” Sweet said, “and so, if a prescription is provided to an adult, that same prescription could be deadly for a child.”
Educating kids on the dangers of medication is also important. Kids should know that just because a doctor writes a prescription doesn’t mean its safe for everyone.
“Kids do have that idea that prescription drugs are safe because a doctor prescribed it,” Sweet said. “And they're safe when a doctor prescribes them, and the person who gets that prescription takes it. They're not safe if someone who hasn't got that prescription takes it. It can have deadly consequences.”
1. Store medicine where children can't reach.
Further, Sweet said families should be prepared in case of an emergency by programming home and cell phones with the Poison Center Hotline. That number is 1.800.222.1222, and more information can be found on its website.
Two disposal sites already accept expired and unneeded medication in Anchorage year round. There's one disposal site at the Anchorage Police headquarters on Elmore Street. APD operates another box on UAA's campus in Eugene Short Hall, just off Providence Drive.