Earlier this year, the FDA approved OxyContin, a powerful painkiller drug, as safe for children as young as 11. The approval received mix reviews from people in the medical field and concerned parents. Prescribing a strong drug such as OxyContin to children could put them at risk for addiction, an action that may haunt them in a life long battle.
One person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose in the United States and this increasing trend is driven by prescription painkillers. – drugfree.org
What is OxyContin?
OxyContin is the brand name for a time-release formula of oxycodone, a narcotic pain medication. It can be prescribed to individuals to relieve pain from injuries, arthritis, cancer, and post-surgery. The drug was developed in 1995 to be used as a long time pain reliever.
The side effects of the drug include:
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
Not to mention, OxyContin is highly addictive drug and withdrawal symptoms can be severe.
Why was OxyContin approved for children?
Children generally have fewer options for pain relief than adults. The FDA did some studies on the effects of OxyContin in children ages 11-16 and deemed it safe enough for kids who are suffering from cancer and other chronic illnesses. Doctors should only prescribe OxyContin in children who have already been treated with opiate painkillers and require something more to make them comfortable.
What is the risk for kids?
Chronic use of opioids like OxyContin can result in tolerance for the drugs. This means that the person feels less of its effects, so increases the dosage as the body adapts to the drug. This can lead to misuse of the drug and ultimately physical dependence and addiction.
Benefits of medical marijuana for Children
The benefits of medical marijuana in adults are the same for children suffering from chronic conditions. Consuming marijuana or using cannabis products has shown an increase in appetite, subside nausea and act as a painkiller. Although smoking marijuana is not recommended by children, there are other ways they can consume cannabis to reap the benefits. Things like inhalers, edibles and oils work well for children. There are countless stories of parents who are treating their children with cannabis, mainly cannabidiol (CBD) oil.
CBD, is known to have significant pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory activity without the producing high that THC has. For many parents, this seems to be the treatment of choice for children with chronic conditions such as epilepsy or cancer. Using the oil is a perfect way to give their kids the medicinal benefits of cannabis, without having them smoke it.
Real Life Example
Take the case of Ezra. He suffered his first seizure at 3 days old. By 3 months, he was having 300 to 500 seizures a day. Doctors treated his condition with countless medicines, but his seizures continued and the drugs left him sleeping for 21 hours a day.
Today, Ezra is down to fewer than 10 seizures a day. His “rag doll” state, as his mother described his first year as, neared an end. He began to eat; he is gained weight and was much happier. His dozens of medications were down to one – marijuana.
Ezra’s family is one of the hundreds of families who moved to Colorado so they could access CBD to treat their child. It is sad to think that a family had to pick up and move to give their child a better life because cannabis and cannabis products are illegal in most states. But now kids can be prescribed the highly addictive drug, OxyContin? It just doesn’t make sense.
What are the risks of marijuana use for kids?
There is a huge debate on the long-term effects of marijuana use. Some researchers say there is no long-term effects while others say marijuana use will cause young adults to develop psychotic disorders. Little is known of the effects CBD has on both children and adults as well. However, we see benefits of using a natural, less addictive solution is best for young kids.
In an interview with VICE, Janice M. Buelow, vice president of programs and research at the Epilepsy Foundation said, “[Marijuana] is a potential treatment and those decisions need to be made between the physician and the patient. Because of the way that medical marijuana is scheduled (Schedule 1), it’s hard to do research with it, and that’s what needs to change”.
We need much more work to be done to answer questions about doses, how can we make sure we’re getting the same substance every time — the efficacy of it as a drug. The good news is, some studies are being conducted. A clinical trial of CBD in children with epilepsy is under way at New York University, a proposed study of CBD in Calgary and another looking into the feasibility of conducting a clinical trial at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
What do you think about prescribing OxyContin to children over medical marijuana? Let us know your thoughts on social media.