Opioids Stored Unsafely in Homes with Children

Despite the risks, many parents may be missing a crucial point about having opioids in the house: a study in the March issue of Pediatrics suggests that opioids are stored unsafely in most households with children.  In the study, 681 adults who had taken opioids in the previous 12 months and had children aged 17 years or younger completed a survey designed to measure their beliefs about and practices on opioid storage. The researchers defined safe storage as “locked or latched” for children aged 6 years or younger and “locked” for children aged 7 to 17 years.  Only 32.6% of survey respondents with young children, 29% with children in both age groups, and 11.7% with older children reported safe storage. Yet 72.6% of study participants agreed with the statement “Children can overdose on opioid pain relievers [OPRs] more easily than adults,” and 75.3% agreed with the statement “Children who take an adult’s OPR can suffer serious health consequences.”  Furthermore, knowledge of a child’s death was unrelated to storage practices.