The opioid epidemic in pediatrics: a 2020 update;

  • Provides a summary of current US perspectives on the opioid epidemic in children.
  • For the first time in the last six decades, the life expectancy in all racial groups has declined primarily because of drug overdose, alcohol abuse, and suicide.
  • There are little public health efforts to curtail or regulate opioid prescription in children. Importantly, excessive quantities of opioids are prescribed for acute pain (including surgical pain) resulting in large reservoirs of residual opioids in the home which serve as the springboard into opioid dependence (both prescribed and illicit) at a later stage.
  • The fallacy of the impossibility or improbability of opioid dependence resulting from appropriate use in treating acute pain needs to be rejected.
  • 8% of 12th graders self-report consuming non-prescription opioids.
  • Public health efforts should be targeted at appropriate opioid prescription to children, accessible disposal, accessible antidotes for opioid narcosis in the community, and accessible treatment for drug dependence, all the while managing acute and chronic pain effectively.


Reviewed by Dr. Philip Cheung