Parents not very concerned about prescription narcotic misuse, poll finds

Disparity found among white, black, Hispanic parents

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A new study indicated that some parents may not be sufficiently concerned about misuse of narcotic painkillers by children and teenagers.

The University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health indicated that overall, 35% of parents said they were "very concerned" about misuse of narcotic pain drugs in their communities, while 19% showed similar concern about misuse in their own families. While 38% of black parents and 26% of Hispanic parents expressed such strong concern about misuse of narcotics, only 13% of white parents did, though rates of narcotic pain use have been shown to be three times higher among white teenagers than among their black and Hispanic peers.

"Recent estimates are that 1-in-4 high school seniors have ever used a narcotic pain medicine," poll associate director and Sarah Clark said. "However, parents may downplay the risks of narcotic pain medicine because they are prescribed by a doctor."

The poll also found that 35% of parents report that they had received at least one pain medicine prescription for their children in the last five years, and more than half of those were for narcotics. Two-thirds had received at least one pain drug for themselves or another adult in the household. National data have indicated that the number of overdose deaths from narcotic pain drugs is more than those from heroin and cocaine combined, according to the poll.

"This is a national problem and a growing problem," Clark said. "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."

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