Friday June 21, 2019

Children of Opioid Users have High Risk of Attempting Suicide: Study

Another study found that among girls age 10 to 14 the suicide rate rose by 12.7% per year after 2007

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opioid crisis
Family and friends who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opioid overdoses leave pill bottles in protest outside the headquarters of Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the Sackler family, in Stamford, Conn., Aug. 17, 2018. VOA

The U.S. opioid crisis is taking a toll on children of users as a study published on Wednesday showed they were more likely to attempt suicide.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry published by the American Medical Association found children whose parents were prescribed opioids were twice as likely to attempt suicide as the offspring of people who did not use those drugs.

The latest study from researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh is the first research attempting to tie rising suicides among U.S. children to the opioid crisis.

“I think that it’s obvious in many ways; it’s just that we were able to put it together and prove it,” said Dr. David Brent, one of the authors of the study.

Brent, of the University of Pittsburgh, said he believes some opioid users might display less care, monitoring and affection for their children, which would explain the higher suicide rate in those kids.

opioid crisis
Laura Levine prepares to dispense drugs at Vocal NY, an organization that works with addicts, where she is the health educator and coordinator for the opioid reversal drug Narcan, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, March 15, 2019. VOA

Suicide increased across all ages in the United States between 1999 and 2016, spiking by over 30% in half the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year.

Another study found that among girls age 10 to 14 the suicide rate rose by 12.7% per year after 2007. In the latest study, researchers used medical insurance data from 2010 to 2016 for more than 300,000 children ages 10 to 19, and broke that group down into those whose parents were prescribed opioid drugs and those whose parents were not.

Among the children of parents who used opioids, 0.37% attempted suicide, compared to 0.14 % of the children of non-users, according to the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The parents were all legally prescribed opioids that they used for at least a year. The study did not identify which of those users may have been abusing painkillers, as opposed to using them in line with doctor recommendations.

Challenges for children of drug users

Children of opioid users still had a significantly higher risk of attempting suicide after researchers adjusted for factors such as depression and parental history of suicide.

Some researchers have suggested social media could harm children’s self esteem and increase their suicide risk. But Brent and his co-authors noted social media is prevalent in countries that have not seen a rise in child suicide.

opioid crisis, suicide
The U.S. opioid crisis is taking a toll on children of users as a study published on Wednesday showed they were more likely to attempt suicide. Pixabay

U.S. President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in October 2017 and has promised to hold drugmakers accountable for their part in the crisis.

Nearly 400,000 people died of overdoses between 1999 and 2017 in the United States, resulting in the lowering of overall life expectancy for the first in more than 60 years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ALSO READ: UK Study: E-Cigarettes help Smokers Quit as Much as Stop-Smoking Aids

Eric Rice, an associate professor at the University of Southern California’s school of social work, said other research has found children of drug users face challenges.

“A doubling in the suicide rate is a pretty shocking manifestation of that, I’ve got to be honest,” Rice said. “But to hear that there are impacts on children which are negative is not a surprising thing,” said Rice, who was not involved with the study. (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s How You can Fight Your Digital Addiction

Vohra suggested that when parents realise that their child is spending too much time on screen, it is very important first to have a dialogue with the kid and ask them to cut down on media consumption

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TikTok has over 54 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India. Pixabay

Digital addiction is real and it could be as dangerous as drug addiction, warned psychiatrists while outlining practical ways to fight the urge to use gadgets non-stop both among children and adults.

The warning came following reports of a 24-year-old mother committing suicide last week in Tamil Nadu after she was prevented from using TikTok and a 16-year-old student from Madhya Pradesh suffering a major cardiac arrest and losing his life after playing PUBG for six straight hours last month.

The key to fighting digital addiction is to realise the problem when someone develops it, the experts said.

Parikh also recommended that adults should undergo a four hours of “digital detox” every week – a period when they do not use their phone or any gadget.

“If one finds it difficult to go through those four hours then there is a problem which needs to be addressed,” he said.

People who are addicted to using gadgets, tend to get “withdrawal symptoms” in the form of always thinking about that them, or becoming irritable with disturbed sleep when they try to stop using their devices, said Sandeep Vohra, Senior Consultant, Psychiatry, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.

“Digital addiction is as bad as addiction to any other drug. So if you are hit by digital addiction, the signs are that you actually tend to go off your normal routine life. You are always dependent and on the screen,” Vohra told IANS.

Such people can neglect personal hygiene and their own self. They also tend to stop interacting with the society, with their family members and stop thinking about their responsibilities or stop doing their day-to-day chores.

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Some players claimed to have received the reminder within an hour and a half of playing the game. Wikimedia Commons

“One can have clinical depression, anxiety, obsessive symptoms, insomnia, irritability, and difficulty in concentrating on other things.

“And you can have in rare cases, when one becomes over-dependent, psychosis. So you have to be aware of all this and it can be very challenging if you don’t realise that you are going into addiction,” Vohra added.

It is not just adults who are vulnerable to digital addiction as use of smartphones and other gaming devices have become common among children.

But do we know when a child starts showing signs of addiction and when to seek help?

The experts suggested that parents should be alarmed when they notice that a child’s ability to live life normally has got affected and they lash out badly when digital access is denied.

“Parents need to be good role models. If parents spend too much time on digital gadgets then children learn and follow by example. Encourage children to be social and develop hobbies,” Parikh said.

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“If you keep focusing your child’s attention on indoor activities there are higher chances of him/her becoming digitally addicted. Therefore encourage him/her to play sports or meet friends and family. Reading is also a great way to combat boredom if indoors,” he added.

Vohra suggested that when parents realise that their child is spending too much time on screen, it is very important first to have a dialogue with the kid and ask them to cut down on media consumption.

“If they feel that either the child is not responding the way they want, or if they feel that the child is trying to tell them lies and still using time on screen, then it’s better to consult a mental health professional,” Vohra informed. (IANS)