Exposure to Medication Overdose as an Adversity in Childhood.

Academic Article


  • PURPOSE: To determine the prevalence of youth exposure to medication or pill overdose by someone close to them, as well as how common this is within the spectrum of major stressful events and child victimization experienced by youth. DESIGN AND METHODS: Data were collected as part of the Third National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence, a nationally representative telephone survey of youth, ages 2-17years (N=3738) conducted in 2013. The analytical subset for the current paper is youth ages 10-17years (n=1959). RESULTS: Estimates indicate that approximately 1 in 12 youth (8%), ages 10-17 have been exposed to medication overdose by someone close to them in their lifetimes. Overdose exposure is related to recent trauma symptoms, alcohol and other substance use. However, these relationships appear to be largely driven by the co-existence of major stressful events these youth are experiencing. Alcohol use is the exception; exposure to medication overdose continues to be related to past year personal alcohol use even after adjusting for other lifetime stressful events. CONCLUSIONS: Having a close family member or friend overdose on a medication is a common experience among U.S. youth and related to high rates of co-occurring stressful events. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Health care providers should be aware that youth exposure to medication overdoses likely indicates exposure to other recognized adversities. Youth with a caregiver who has had an overdose may require an urgent response including referral to crisis intervention through child and family services.
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • 2018
  • Published In


  • Adolescent
  • Adolescents
  • Adversity
  • Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Child of Impaired Parents
  • Crime Victims
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overdose
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Assessment
  • Substance use
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trauma
  • United States
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 28958454
  • Start Page

  • 127
  • End Page

  • 132
  • Volume

  • 38