Teen opioid use is local focus of Injury Prevention Day

Injury-prevention and addiction specialists at UW Medicine collaborate to produce a web tool for teens and parents. 

Every day, 20 children in the United States die from preventable injuries, which are the leading cause of death and disability among Americans ages 1 to 18. 

On Thursday, Nov. 18, hospitals and trauma centers across the nation will mark National Injury Prevention Day, displaying green lighting to “shine a light” on opportunities to prevent serious childhood injury. 

This year, The Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center (HIPRC) and UW Medicine’s  Addictions, Drug, & Alcohol Institute (ADAI) are sharing a new digital toolkit on teen opioid-use prevention. The toolkit includes videos and information for teens and parents, and a section dedicated to how parents can initiate a conversation with their kids about opioid use. Collaborators include Safe Kids Seattle South King in partnership with the Injury Free Coalition for Kids. 

“It’s a very real concern in King County, Washington. One person a day (in 2021) is dying from a fentanyl overdose,” said Caleb Banta-Green, principal research scientist at ADAI. “It's stunning. We've never seen anything like this before.”

In 2020, he said, 18 local youths under age 18 died of an opioid overdose.

“As a parent, make sure young adults understand that if you did not get that pill from a pharmacy, it is 99% likely to be fentanyl. You can’t tell if drugs contain fentanyl by look, taste, smell or touch,” Banta-Green said.

The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics published provisional data this week showing that more than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses In the 12-month period that ended in April 2021. The figure is up almost 30% from the previous year span, and is the first time that U.S. overdoses have exceeded 100,000 in one year.

To observe National Injury Prevention Day, share via Twitter with the hashtags #BeInjuryFree or #NationalInjuryDayHIPRC. Tag @HIPRC and show how you’ve gone green with light.

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UW Medicine