Children Are Being Exposed to Drugs Used to “Help” Address Addiction in Adults

Little girl taking pills.

To love and protect children is one of humanity's most important doctrines, one of the supreme, guiding principles of just being human. When we hear of a child’s suffering, it strikes a deep, painful chord in our very souls. Certainly, there will be suffering and sadness for adults, but when a child suffers, the world and all its good people weep.

My own feelings went out to the children of our country when I read that, in just three years, there was a 215% percent increase in child exposures to medication-assisted treatment drugs, i.e., medicines which are supposed to help addicts stay sober. Being an addiction expert myself and holding as I do to a firm stance against medication-assisted therapy, this news boiled my blood and saddened my heart at the same time.

The three-year spike in exposure occurred from 2007 to 2010. Statistics dropped shortly after that. But then they began to rise again, and they have been growing ever since.

Kids Are Being Exposed to MAT Drugs, and the Results Are Terrible

“More than 11,200 calls concerning children’s exposure to buprenorphine, an opioid medication used to treat opioid-use disorder, were made to U.S. poison control centers from 2007 to 2016. … Among the 11,275 children exposed, the overall exposure rate per 1 million increased by 215.6% from 2007 to 2010 (from 6.4 to 20.2).” That data comes from Maritza Moulite, writing for CNN.

Drugs like buprenorphine, while touted as being “miracle drugs” (sound familiar anyone?) for use on adults, are known to be quite toxic when used by children. And they are highly addictive for adolescents. They are addictive for adults, too, though that truth is not yet well publicized.

The trend discussed in the CNN article is that adults seem to be leaving their “addiction drugs” out in the open, thinking that because such drugs help them to stay sober, they are not themselves harmful. Unfortunately, that is not true. For children, buprenorphine and other medication-assisted therapy (MAT) drugs can be toxic and fatal.

As for adolescents, the research indicates that teens seek out buprenorphine to experiment with it and to get high from it. While teens only made up about 11 percent of total recorded exposures, 77 percent of those exposures were intentional, 12 percent were suspected suicides. Kids stumble across MAT drugs, consume them, and then suffer the effects. Teens seek out MAT drugs and consume them for a high or in an attempt to take their own lives, and then they too suffer the effects.

All of these circumstances are terrible and unconscionable.

Why Medication-Assisted Treatments Are Not the Answer to Drug Addiction

Man at home taking bunch of medical drugs.

The fact that our children are now being exposed to MAT drugs is yet another indicator as to why we should not be supporting medication-assisted treatments as “legitimate addiction science.”

In a nation that struggles hugely with drug addiction, we now have drugs… to treat drug addiction! Imagine that. It almost sounds like something out of a strange, dystopian, futuristic novel, but this is the world we live in now. When faced with a nationwide drug addiction crisis which has trapped about 19.7 million people in the throes of addiction and which killed some 70,200 people in 2017, one direction that many “experts” suggest is that we just give addicts more drugs.

To put a struggling addict on “medication for drug and alcohol addiction” is sort of like giving a blind man a pair of glasses and then putting him behind the wheel of a car, convincing him all along that “You can drive now!” It’s one of the biggest farces yet in the history of the medical industry.

I do get the argument behind it. Getting off drugs and alcohol is hard. It is not a walk in the park, and it probably never will be. But there is no shortcut, no cheat sheet, no silver bullet. Big Pharma promised us pain relief for our bodies and perfect mental health for our minds, and we got an addiction epidemic instead. Now they promise us an end to the addiction crisis with more drugs as the solution. Are we going to be fooled twice?

We cannot use drugs to solve addiction. It is a multi-faceted problem which transcends the physical and which embodies all aspects and facets of a person’s life. And when those very MAT drugs have adverse side effects (such as harming children), we shouldn't even pay them a second glance. And let's also not forget that MAT drugs themselves have addictive properties, which seems to defeat the purpose from the very beginning.

We need real solutions to drug addiction, not bandaids which are themselves infected.

Residential Addiction Treatment – The Correct Method for Tackling Addiction

When someone struggles with drug addiction or alcoholism, there is no substitute for a course through a drug and alcohol rehab center. That is the optimum solution, the only solution which offers amicable results and no unfavorable circumstances.

Residential drug and alcohol rehab centers provide recovering addicts with the tools they need to address and overcome addiction. Effective drug and alcohol rehab centers show people the way out; they create a pathway and a route to success for those who need it and want it.

Narconon Program

Residential rehabs possess the facilities and the necessary tools for helping recovering addicts to come down off drugs. The Narconon program in particular even goes a step further by helping its students to thoroughly cleanse their bodies of all toxins and impurities that would have accrued in the body as a result of using drugs and alcohol. Just this first step of treatment alone is a massive boon to the recovering addict.

And residential treatment centers go beyond just helping recovering addicts overcome physical dependence on drugs. Residential rehabs also address the mental, behavioral, personal, and spiritual implications of a drug or alcohol habit. Such approaches help to free the person from the heavy, psychological bonds of an addiction habit.

Medication-assisted treatment is a mockery of what true drug and alcohol treatment can be and is. Medication-assisted treatment does not work in the long run, and it is not a practical or even sensible approach to addiction treatment. Residential drug-free rehab is. If you are seeking help for yourself or a loved one who is struggling with a drug habit or with alcoholism, do the right thing for you and for them, and seek help from a residential drug treatment program.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, MCAP, LADC, RAS, LADC



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.