According to a report published Wednesday by the CDC, the rate of teenage drug-overdose deaths have more than doubled between 1999 and 2015 — and experts say that the number is only predicted to rise.
The CDC's researchers studied the rate of drug overdose deaths amongst teens aged 15-19, finding that while the rate did decline between 2007 and 2014, it rose again in 2015. Moreover, while the rates increased amongst both young men and women, the decline within those seven years only occurred amongst men.
The majority of the deaths, the CDC reports, were unintentional, however, a higher percentage of male (86.2%) than female (70.1%) overdose deaths were unintentional. That being said, a higher percentage of drug overdose deaths among young women were deaths by suicide — 21.9% compared with 8.7% for young men. The report attributes most of the deaths to opioids, specifically heroin.
In 2015 alone, there were 772 reported deaths in this age group due to drug overdose. Christopher Ruhm, PhD, author of a recent study on the national opioid crisis, told NBC that the CDC's data for 2016-2017 may unfortunately show an increase in the number of deaths, Given that opioid addiction rates have continued to climb.
"Not, primarily, because of opioid analgesics but rather because of rapid growth in deaths due to heroin and (often unintentionally) fentanyl use," he said. "Prescription opioids have played a role in all of this earlier, particularly in establishing patterns that led to increased heroin use."
Last week, Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis as a national emergency, but it's clear that it's been an issue for much longer — and will continue to be if we don't do something.
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