Greg interviews Dr. Sarah Friebert, the Director of Pediatric Palliative Care at Akron Children’s Hospital. The Pediatric Palliative Care Center provides care to children that are affected by complex, chronic, or serious conditions.

Greg asks Dr. Friebert about the truth behind the perception that heroin usage begins after high school. She explains that this perception is actually a misperception, and likely one of the reasons pediatric centers have been slow in their response to the opioid epidemic. “…When you read the statistics about people who are dying and the opioid overdose deaths, most of those people are 18-19 and above. But I think if you stop for a minute you realize that it’s not the usual scenario that somebody, on the morning of their 18th birthday, picks up a needle and puts it in their arm. That process starts at some point.” She furthers that for most adolescents, substance abuse problems begin with prescription drugs. “As we know, adolescents are starting with prescribed pain medications, but medications that are not necessarily prescribed for them – medications they’re finding in their parent’s friend’s medicine cabinet, for example, or being given at parties. Or they’re starting with other substances. Actually, opioids are one of the many things we’re seeing in the addicted adolescents and young teens that are coming into our hospital. So we have to realize that the disease as it manifests itself may not start with full-blown heroin addiction, but it builds to that.”  

Listen to the podcast to discover how Dr. Friebert and her team at Akron Children’s Hospital are building community care to combat the growing opioid epidemic.