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Medications in drug treatment: tackling the risk to children, 29/04/14 [E/NI/S/W]

This report from Adfam says that too many children are being put at risk due to insufficient safeguards to protect them from drug treatment medications prescribed to their parents and carers.

It looks at Serious Case Reviews, international research and media coverage of incidents of children ingesting methadone and buprenorphine, and presents findings from interviews and focus groups with a range of frontline practitioners and experts.

Findings include:

  • Over 60,000 people caring for children receive prescriptions to support them through recovery from addiction;
  • In 2003-13 there were 20 Serious Case Reviews involving the ingestion of drug treatment medications by 23 children, 17 of whom died;
  • Safeguarding children is not sufficiently prioritised by professionals when making decisions about drug treatment medications;
  • Serious Case Reviews are not contributing to national learning on managing risks.
Recommendations include:
  • Better national data collection on the number of parents allowed to take home Opioid Substitution Treatment (OST) medicines, and the number of children admitted to hospital after ingesting them;
  • Improved national analysis of Serious Case Reviews involving drug ingestions by children;
  • Representation for drug treatment agencies on Local Safeguarding Children Boards;
  • Reemphasis of the importance of safeguarding children when making decisions about OST, according to existing guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE);
  • Lockable storage boxes and agreed safety plans for anyone with childcare responsibilities who takes OST medication home.

For full details see the Adfam website.

Further Information

Medications in drug treatment: tackling the risk to children