Each day, 7,000 patients are treated for opiate overdoses in emergency rooms across the nation. As powerful drugs like heroin become easily available, more young patients are arriving at the hospital with life-threatening overdoses.
“One thing we’ve had to deal with more and more over the last ten years is overdoses, and overdoses in children,” Dr. Matt Kaplan, an Emergency Room doctor at Mission Trauma Center in Mission Viejo, Calif., said in the latest episode of “Enough is Enough: Addiction.”
“It’s a child that is the every day child. It’s a kid that is growing up in the school. They started to use it as an escape mechanism, or a part mechanism, but what they don’t realize is that their bodies become addicted to it, and they have to start using it weekly, daily, and then it starts to rule their lives,” said Dr. Kaplan.
Kaplan explained what happens in the Emergency Room when an overdose victim comes in: chest compressions, breathing tubes, and hard decisions.
“If we’re fortunate enough to get them back… then we have to worry about is the brain going to recover from this. Will they have a functional recovery?”
When the patient’s parents arrive, doctors and nurses try to get as much information as possible before telling them exactly what’s happened, because, “We know that as soon as they find out what has happened, the extent of the injuries, they’re going to shut down,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan, who has teenage children himself, emphasized that addiction and overdose can strike anyone.
“The idea that it can’t happen to me, it can’t happen to my family, is the most invalid statement there is,” he said. “Because it does happen to you, it does happen to your family, whether it’s directly or indirectly, it’s there.”
Dr. Kaplan does think that there is something that we can do to reduce the number of children coming into the emergency room with overdoses. To find out what that is, watch the latest episode of “Enough is Enough: Addiction.”
“Enough is Enough: Addiction” is a short documentary series presented by Renew Media. The series shows how addiction is in our homes and communities, and how recovery is possible. Watch the trailer for the series to see what’s to come. The first episode, Jesse's story, profiles a man whose marijuana habit opened the door to more severe drug use, while the second episode shares the story of the Masters family, who lost one child to drugs and had another child find recovery. Dr. Kaplan’s episode is the third in the seven-part series.