Published: Thu, August 17, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

CDC: Teen overdose deaths on the rise

CDC: Teen overdose deaths on the rise

Drug overdose deaths among teenagers rose sharply over a one-year period after almost seven years of decline after hitting a peak in 2007, according to federal data released Wednesday.

The number of American teens who died from drug overdoses doubled between 1999 and 2015, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That year, 772 teens died of drug overdoses. Most of these fatalities were due to opiates like heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and and tramadol.

Overdose death rates were consistently higher for males compared with females during the 1999-2015 period and were 70% higher in 2015.

"Heroin has been a stealth contributor to opioid deaths, climbing since 2005 as prescription pill deaths have decreased since the mid-2000s".

Sokolnicki said the new data from the CDC is a concern but drug use among teens, isn't exactly new.

The trend prompted researchers to question whether smartphones might be replacing the inclination of previous generations of teens to abuse drugs. After years of decline, deadly overdoses are once again on the rise.

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"This is a warning sign that we need to keep paying attention to what's happening with young people", said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University expert on drug abuse issues who wasn't part of the study.

While overdose deaths among boys were still falling in 2013, overdose deaths among teen girls started to climb. Girls' rate increased from 2.2 to 2.7.

Among all drug overdose deaths in 2015 for adolescents, 80.4 percent were unintentional. "But now we're talking about kids getting into opiates and of course they have even less tolerance than their counterparts in the adult population so they're probably even more prone to dying of an overdose".

"And if you use just a little bit you can actually like overdose pretty easily", added Camerer. Recently, Trump blamed lower numbers of drug prosecutions for the epidemic, and promised to prosecute more drug cases.

The report comes as the Trump administration has given conflicting signals about how it intends to address the crisis.

Earlier in August, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. A state of emergency generally allows administration's to cut through red tape and access emergency funding, but it is unclear what exact actions the White House might take.

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