Adolescents Using Less Drugs, Overdosing More on Heroin and Fentanyl
According to recent studies, there are two significant trends regarding drug use among teenagers: less drugs are being abused, but more heroin and fentanyl overdoses are occurring. While fewer adolescents are using illegal drugs, overdose rates have still increased.
According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015 there was a 19% increase in overdose deaths among teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 after years of slow decline.
Most of these deaths are due to synthetic opioids like fentanyl and tramadol, which have gone up sixfold in use since 2002. Opiates like heroin, however, have caused most of the fatalities, tripling in number since 2002—heroin alone is responsible for one death per 100,000 adolescents per year.
While the rate of overdose deaths is increasing, however, the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs other than marijuana is at its lowest since the 1990s. 5, 10 and 14% of 8th, 10th and 12th graders reported using drugs last year, a significant decline from 1991’s respective 13, 18 and 21% drug usage rates.
The Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis has been urging President Trump to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, and he recently announced his intention to do so. He described the opioid epidemic as a “serious problem the likes of which we have never had,” on which he plans to “spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money.”
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