Parents numb to misuse of narcotic pain meds by youth, new poll shows

Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:18am EST

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Only 1 in 5 parents say they are very concerned about children, teens misusing
narcotics, according to U-M's National Poll on Children's Health  

ANN ARBOR, Mich.,  Jan. 23, 2013  /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite data on
rising rates of abuse and overdoses of narcotic pain medicines across all age
groups, in a new poll from the  University of Michigan, most parents said they
are not very concerned about misuse of these medicines by children and teens.  

In addition, parent support was lukewarm for policies that would discourage
abuse of drugs like Vicodin or Oxycontin, according to the most recent 
University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's
Health.

Overall, 35% of parents said they are  very concerned  about misuse of narcotic
pain medicines by children and teens in their communities; only 1 in 5 parents
(19%) are  very concerned  about misuse of pain medicines in their own families.
Black parents (38%) and Hispanic parents (26%) are more likely than white
parents (13%) to be  very concerned  about misuse of narcotic pain medicines in
their own families.   

The poll also confirmed that prescription pain medicine is common in US
households with children.  Thirty-five percent of parents report that, in the
last five years, they had received at least one pain medicine prescription for
their children; over half of these prescriptions were for a narcotic pain
medicine. Two-thirds (66%) had received at least one pain medicine prescription
for themselves or another adult in the household.

National data indicate that the number of drug overdose deaths attributed to
narcotic pain medicines is more than overdose deaths from heroin and cocaine
combined. However, almost half of the parents in this poll do not favor a
requirement that they return unused pain medicine to the doctor or pharmacy.
Only 41 percent favor a policy that would require a doctor's visit to obtain a
refill on narcotic pain medicines.

"Recent estimates are that 1 in 4 high school seniors have ever used a narcotic
pain medicine. However, parents may downplay the risks of narcotic pain medicine
because they are prescribed by a doctor," says  Sarah J. Clark, M.P.H.,
Associate Director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit at
the  University of Michigan  and Associate Director of the National Poll on
Children's Health.

"However, people who misuse narcotic pain medicine are often using drugs
prescribed to themselves, a friend or a relative. That 'safe' prescription may
serve as a readily accessible supply of potentially lethal drugs for children or
teens," Clark says.

Although rates of narcotic pain medicine use have been shown to be three times
higher among white teens than their black or Hispanic peers, white parents in
this poll are less likely than black or Hispanic parents to be  very concerned 
about narcotic pain medicine use, and are less likely to support policies to
limit children's access to them.   

There was support for some policies to discourage misuse: 66 percent strongly
supported requiring parents to show identification when picking narcotic pain
medicine for their children. Fifty-seven percent strongly supported policies
blocking narcotic pain medicine scripts from more than one doctor.

But overall, the limited level of concern and the lack of strong support for
policy changes show the public may not recognize the seriousness of the problem.

"This is a national problem and a growing problem. The results of this poll are
a signal that parents may not be aware of the significant rates of misuse of
narcotic pain medicine, which highlights the tremendous challenge of addressing
this national problem," Clark says.  

Broadcast-quality video is available on request. See the video here: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8cXRIEmkTk.

Full report: 
http://mottnpch.org/reports-surveys/parents-numb-misuse-narcotic-pain-medicines-youth

Website: Check out the Poll's new website:  MottNPCH.org. You can search and
browse over 70 NPCH Reports, suggest topics for future polls, share your opinion
in a quick poll, and view information on popular topics. The National Poll on
Children's Health team welcomes feedback on the new website, including features
you'd like to see added. To share feedback, e-mail  NPCH@med.umich.edu.

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/mottnpch
Twitter:  @MottNPCH
Additional resources:  http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/rxbrief/
http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/topics-in-brief/prescription-drug-abuse

Purpose/Funding:  The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's
Health - based at the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the 
University of Michigan  and funded by the Department of Pediatrics and
Communicable Diseases and the  University of Michigan  Health System - is
designed to measure major health care issues and trends for U.S. children.

Data Source:  This report presents findings from a nationally representative
household survey conducted exclusively by GfK Custom Research, LLC GfK Custom
Research, LLC (GfK), for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital via a method used in many
published studies. The survey was administered in  September 2012  to a randomly
selected, stratified group of parents with a child age 5-17 (n=1,304) from GfK's
web-enabled KnowledgePanel that closely resembles the U.S. population. The
sample was subsequently weighted to reflect population figures from the Census
Bureau. The survey completion rate was 57% among panel members contacted to
participate. The margin of error is +/- 2 to 4 percentage points and higher
among subgroups.

Findings from the U-M C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's
Health do not represent the opinions of the investigators or the opinions of the
University of Michigan. 

SOURCE   University of Michigan  Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on
Children's Health


Mary F. Masson, mfmasson@umich.edu, 734-764-2220

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