By Steven Reinberg 

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 20, 2022 (HealthDay Information) — Deaths of teenagers from drug overdoses soared beginning in late 2019, and although they look like on the decline, they continue to be a lot greater than in 2019, U.S. well being officers report.

Most of those deaths are as a consequence of illegally made fentanyl combined with different medicine, mentioned research creator Lauren Tanz, an epidemiologist on the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

“Adolescent overdose deaths elevated considerably between 2019 and 2021; nevertheless, these deaths are preventable, and overdoses would not have to finish in loss of life,” Tanz mentioned. “All of us play a job as dad and mom, relations, pals and communities to forestall overdoses and save lives.”

Utilizing information from the CDC’s State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System, the researchers discovered that overdose deaths amongst 10- to 19-year-olds started to rise in late 2019. Amongst 14- to 18-year-olds, overdose deaths jumped 94% from 2019 to 2020 because the COVID-19 pandemic raged on.

Between the second half of 2019 and the second half of 2021, month-to-month overdose deaths amongst teenagers jumped a median 109%, Tanz mentioned. These involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl rose 182%. (Median means half of months had greater charges, half decrease.)

About 9 in 10 overdose deaths concerned not less than one opioid, greater than 8 in 10 concerned illicitly manufactured fentanyl, and practically one-quarter concerned counterfeit capsules, based on the report.

The provision of fentanyl has pushed the surge in overdose deaths, based on Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the U.S. Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Over the previous few years, there was a marked growth within the drug provide of illicit fentanyl, an affordable, very potent artificial opioid drug,” she mentioned. “Whereas folks might search out fentanyl deliberately in some instances, many individuals aren’t conscious whether or not the drug they’re utilizing incorporates fentanyl, which may put them at excessive threat of overdosing.”

The surge of fentanyl within the drug provide is of huge concern, Volkow mentioned, particularly the contamination of counterfeit capsules made to resemble prescribed drugs equivalent to ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity dysfunction) drugs, sleep aids or painkillers.

“It’s completely essential to teach younger folks that capsules bought by way of social media, given to somebody by a buddy or obtained from an unknown supply might comprise lethal fentanyl,” Volkow mentioned.

Psychological sickness additionally contributed to the surge, Tanz mentioned.

Greater than 40% of teenagers who died from a drug overdose had a historical past of a psychological sickness, equivalent to despair or suicidal or self-harm habits, or had been handled for a psychological well being situation, the researchers discovered.

“Our outcomes present that overdose deaths amongst adolescents continued to rise from January to June 2020, coinciding with the pandemic’s onset, and was probably associated to declining psychological well being,” Tanz mentioned. Social isolation and lack of entry to school-based psychological well being companies might also have performed a job.

Linda Richter, vp for prevention analysis and evaluation on the Partnership to Finish Habit, in New York Metropolis, mentioned, “This report ought to be a wake-up name to all households, communities, educators, well being professionals, policymakers and younger folks themselves that what was an opioid epidemic is now a fentanyl disaster inflicting an unacceptable variety of utterly preventable deaths amongst youngsters.” She was not concerned within the research however reviewed the findings.

“These deaths are rising as unlawful drug use is usually declining amongst youth, which signifies that it’s not that extra teenagers are utilizing harmful medicine, however somewhat that those that are utilizing the medicine are more and more prone to die from them,” Richter mentioned.

Volkow struck an analogous chord.

“Drug use amongst adolescents is turning into extra harmful, however not essentially extra widespread,” she mentioned.

Researcher Tanz mentioned steps to forestall overdose deaths are urgently wanted. These embody:

  • Selling prevention.
  • Monitoring threat behaviors, equivalent to poor college efficiency and youths associating with others who use medicine; selling optimistic social and life expertise; and bettering well-being.
  • Educating teenagers in regards to the risks of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and counterfeit capsules.
  • Educating household and pals on methods to acknowledge warning indicators of drug use.
  • Studying how to answer an overdose.
  • Coaching family and friends to make use of naloxone, a medication used to quickly reverse an opioid overdose, and increasing entry to it.
  • Guaranteeing entry to efficient therapy for psychological well being issues and substance abuse.

The research was printed Dec. 16 within the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Extra info

The U.S. Division of Well being and Human Companies has extra about stopping drug overdoses.


SOURCES: Lauren Tanz, ScD, MSPH, epidemiologist, U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, Atlanta; Nora Volkow, MD, director, U.S. Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse; Linda Richter, PhD, vp, prevention analysis and evaluation, Partnership to Finish Habit, New York Metropolis; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Dec. 16, 2022

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