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Teen drug overdose deaths rose sharply in 2020, pushed by fentanyl-laced drugs : Pictures

Teen drug overdose deaths rose sharply in 2020, pushed by fentanyl-laced drugs : Pictures

Teen drug overdose deaths rose sharply in 2020, driven by fentanyl-laced pills : Shots

Teenagers began dying in larger numbers from deadly drug overdoses in 2020, elevating alarm that the pattern might proceed or worsen.

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tillsonburg/Getty Photographs


Teenagers began dying in larger numbers from deadly drug overdoses in 2020, elevating alarm that the pattern might proceed or worsen.

tillsonburg/Getty Photographs

For the primary time in a decade, overdose deaths amongst teenagers in the US rose dramatically in 2020 and stored rising by way of 2021 as nicely. That is in keeping with the outcomes of a new research printed Tuesday in JAMA.

“That is very alarming as a result of what we have seen in different components of the inhabitants is that when overdose loss of life charges begin to rise, they have a tendency to proceed to take action for fairly a while,” says Joe Friedman, a public well being researcher on the College of California, Los Angeles, and the lead creator of the brand new research.

“We’re nonetheless actually within the early days by way of teen overdose. And that makes this an particularly vital time to intervene,” he provides.

Friedman and his colleagues discovered that deadly overdoses amongst adolescents practically doubled from 492 in 2019 to 954 in 2020, a rise of 94%. There was a further 20% rise in 2021 in comparison with the earlier yr. The very best charges have been amongst Native American and Alaskan Native teenagers, adopted by Latino teenagers.

“For many years, we have seen overdose charges rising amongst adults, and teenagers have been insulated from that,” says Friedman. “And now, for the primary time, the overdose disaster is reaching teenagers as nicely.”

It seems that the rise in deaths was fueled not by larger numbers of teenagers utilizing medication – substance use on this age group truly went down throughout the pandemic – however by use of harmful and extremely potent types of fentanyl. The research discovered that fentanyl-related deaths elevated from 253 in 2019 to 680 the next yr. And in 2021, 77% of all teen overdose deaths concerned fentanyl.

Nonetheless, in contrast to in grownup overdose deaths, it isn’t fentanyl in heroin that is chargeable for the deaths amongst teenagers, says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse, who wasn’t concerned within the new research.

“Youngsters do not hunt down illicit opioids, [but] they do hunt down prescription opioids and that has at all times been certainly one of their favourite medication: Vicodin, OxyContin, hydrocodone,” she says. “And so they additionally hunt down benzodiazepines.”

And so they typically find yourself shopping for counterfeit variations of those medicines – fakes that seem like the generally used prescription medicines – which have more and more turn into contaminated with fentanyl prior to now couple of years.

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“It’s estimated that not less than one third of these illicitly manufactured drugs are contaminated with fentanyl,” says Volkow, one thing that almost all youngsters and their households are unaware of.

“Prior to now, you’d simply get sedated,” she provides. “Now you’ll be able to take one benzodiazepine, one capsule and it could possibly kill you.”

Which means that occasional or leisure customers might be vulnerable to dying, says Sheila Vakharia, deputy director of the division of analysis and Tutorial engagement on the Drug coverage Alliance.

That is why there’s an pressing want to raised educate teenagers concerning the dangers of counterfeit drugs and provides them instruments to assist them use safely, she says.

Friedman agrees: “It is fairly clear that teenagers do not perceive that most of the drugs which can be obtainable proper now on the road are literally counterfeit [and containing fentanyl].”

It is also vital to teach them that not all medication are equally harmful, he provides. “Alcohol and hashish should not danger free, after all. However we all know that these medication have by no means been discovered to be contaminated with fentanyls, whereas drugs and powders are at a really excessive danger of being contaminated.”

Vakharia says it is vital to offer youngsters extra details about drug use.

“So a lot of our younger persons are so busy being taught to not use medication that when they’re uncovered to them or they’re surrounded by it, they really have little or no info to go off of to maintain themselves or their associates protected across the selections they make surrounding medication,” says Vakharia,.

Vakharia and her colleagues have developed a faculty curriculum known as Security First, which teaches youth concerning the dangers of drug use and methods to determine indicators of an overdose and methods to deal with it.

Pilot research of this curriculum in faculties across the nation revealed that college students who took this coaching knew the indicators of an overdose and the way to answer it, says Vakharia.

She provides that faculties have to play an vital function in addressing this, not simply by adopting curricula just like the one she and her colleagues created, but additionally by making naloxone, the overdose treatment, simply obtainable to their college students.

“Naloxone … is an extremely protected treatment that we would like to see in class first help kits,” she says. “And to be getting our younger individuals skilled on these medicines and utilizing this treatment for an overdose.”

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