Opioid addiction: Kids and teens

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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV) - We know opioid addiction is a major problem in our state, but how does it affect teenagers and kids?

SOURCE: FDA / MGN

According to officials with Yale School of Medicine, among children one to four years old the number for poisonings went up 205 percent from 1997 to 2012.

And for teens 15 to 19 the increase was 176 percent. Overall the study shows a 165 percent increase in poisoning from opioids for folks 19 and younger.

With those under 10 most overdoses come from accidents where kids have eaten them. So how can we avoid those accidents?

"I think part of it is, prevention education," said James Harris, Executive Director of Health Access. "We're doing as well as we can I think in some areas, but there is always room for improvement."

"The easy rule to follow is to secure all your medicine. Whether it's an addictive opioid or blood pressure medication or anything else," said William J. Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia. "As adults we should secure all of medications."

But, for some teens these medications are abused for non-medical reasons. Some teens use them to get high just like any other recreational drug.

"West Virginia is still at the top of the list, regarding the rate of opioid prescriptions being written," Ihlenfeld said. "We have been third in the country for the past several years, in just legitimate prescriptions being written."

There are continuous efforts to fight the war on drugs in our surrounding areas. And it's clear when numbers like these surface, this battle has to continue.

"It's a battle. We have good and evil here, really," said Dr. Robert Williams, PhD, and Executive Director of United Summit Center. "There's free will, people make choices, but once you get into that addictive process that will is not exactly as strong as it normally is. The first step is getting people out of that mist and into recovery, starting with detoxification and then going down to different types of treatment for a good three or four months period of time."