Pandemic Introduced Surge in Teen Drug Overdose Deaths

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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 increased than in 2019, U.S. well being officers report.

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Most of those deaths are as a result of illegally made fentanyl combined with different medication, stated examine writer 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 wouldn’t have to finish in dying,” Tanz stated. “All of us play a task as dad and mom, relations, buddies and communities to stop 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 stated. These involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl rose 182%. (Median means half of months had increased charges, half decrease.)

About 9 in 10 overdose deaths concerned a minimum of one opioid, greater than 8 in 10 concerned illicitly manufactured fentanyl, and practically one-quarter concerned counterfeit tablets, based on the report.

The supply 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 enlargement within the drug provide of illicit fentanyl, an affordable, very potent artificial opioid drug,” she stated. “Whereas folks might hunt down fentanyl deliberately in some instances, many individuals should not conscious whether or not the drug they’re utilizing incorporates fentanyl, which may put them at excessive danger of overdosing.”

The surge of fentanyl within the drug provide is of monumental concern, Volkow stated, particularly the contamination of counterfeit tablets made to resemble prescribed drugs corresponding to ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity dysfunction) medicines, sleep aids or painkillers.

“It’s completely essential to coach younger those that tablets bought through social media, given to somebody by a buddy or obtained from an unknown supply might include lethal fentanyl,” Volkow stated.

Psychological sickness additionally contributed to the surge, Tanz stated.

Greater than 40% of teenagers who died from a drug overdose had a historical past of a psychological sickness, corresponding to melancholy 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 presumably associated to declining psychological well being,” Tanz stated. Social isolation and lack of entry to school-based psychological well being companies can also have performed a task.

Linda Richter, vp for prevention analysis and evaluation on the Partnership to Finish Habit, in New York Metropolis, stated, “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 fully preventable deaths amongst youngsters.” She was not concerned within the examine however reviewed the findings.

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

Volkow struck the same chord.

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

Researcher Tanz stated steps to stop overdose deaths are urgently wanted. These embody:

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

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

Extra data

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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