As per data released by the National Center for Health Statistics recently, US teenage deaths due to drug overdoses increased by 19 percent between 2014 to 2015. The new numbers revolve around youth 15 to 19 years of age and in 2014 figures indicated that 3.1 overdose death occurred per 100,000 teenagers, which rose one year later to 3.7 deaths/100,000.
It’s been noted that a majority of these drug overdose deaths happened unintentionally and were caused by opioids, which included painkillers (e.g. oxycodone) that were prescribed as well as drugs like street fentanyl and heroin.
When comparing the larger population, the silver lining in the data did show a decreased trend when it came to prescription opioids and methadone overdose deaths in recent years, still there was an increase when it came to synthetic opioids (fentanyl) and heroin. The rate of overdose deaths among teens when it came to synthetic opioids heightened tremendously from 0.1 deaths each 100,000 teens (15 to 19) in 2002 to 0.7 deaths/100,000 teen come 2015.
When it came to heroin, the drug overdoses among teens aged 15 to 19 increased three times in 2015 from 1999: making it now one overdose death around this drug for every 100,000 teens, from 0.3/100,000.
Still, CNN reported that figures from the 2016 Monitoring and Future Survey indicate that there is a decrease of illicit drug use (alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana) among teens in this age group, as well as a decline when it comes to misusing prescription drugs.
The good news overall is that while stories of teen drug use and overdoses do often appear within the media, the number of deaths are still small. In 2015, the overall reported drug overdose deaths for teens aged 15 to 19 years old was just over 770. This number represents just over one percent of the over 52,000 individuals who died due to overdoses in that year. Over 33,000 of those overdose deaths were a result of opioids.