Fatal Drug Overdoses on Rise in Teens

Drug overdose deaths are rising among U.S. teens, according to data released this week. The rate climbed 19% from 2014 to 2015 – from 3.1 deaths to 3.7 deaths per 100,000 teens, per the Center for Disease Control (CDC). These numbers involved teens ages 15 to 19.

Health experts said the uptick is likely attributable to the increasing availability of newer, more lethal opioids such as fentanyl which can be mixed with heroin, as reported by ABC News.

Firefighters help overdose victim

Firefighters help an overdose victim in July 2017 in Illinois. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Most of the overdose deaths were unintentional and associated with opioids which included both prescribed painkillers and illicit drugs. Drugs involved in the deaths included oxycodone, heroin, and street fentanyl.

NBC News quoted the report as stating, “For both male and female adolescents, the majority of drug overdose deaths in 2015 were unintentional.”

The CDC’s report looked at drug overdose deaths among Americans aged 15 to 19 over a 16-year period spanning from 1999 to 2015. The study showed that while overdose deaths more than doubled from 1999 to the mid-2000s, after 2007 teen overdose deaths declined in following years. However, in 2015 (the most recent year with data available), the deaths increased again, by 19 percent.

Earlier in August, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. “The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially, right now, it is an emergency,” Trump said. “It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.” He called the crisis “a serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”

Experts said declaring a emergency would allow Trump to devote funds to expanding treatment facilities and providing police officers with an anti-overdose remedy medication, per this NBC report.

Firefighter Displays Naloxone

A firefighter displays Naloxone which is carried on ambulances to treat opioid drug overdoses. | Scott Olson/Getty Images