Thanks to Fentanyl, Adolescent Drug Overdoses Are On the Rise

Drug overdoses are killing young Americans in unprecedented numbers, with the monthly total rising from 31 in July 2019 to 87 in May 2021, the period with the most recent data, Ty Schepis reports for The Conversation. When the CDC examined data for Americans 10 to 19 years old, it found that, as is the case for adults, most adolescents dying from drug overdoses are male. However, the share of girls among these fatalities is larger than the share of women. More than twice as many boys who are tweens or teens are dying of a drug overdose for every girl in that age group.

The share of fatal overdoses of white, non-Hispanic adolescents is vastly greater than for their nonwhite peers – more so than for adults. Fentanyl on its own is the key culprit in adolescent overdoses. For teens, 84 percent of fatal overdoses involved fentanyl, and 56 percent of all overdoses involved only fentanyl. Only 1 in 10 teens and tweens who died from a drug overdose had a history of treatment for a substance use problem, and only 1 in 7 had ever experienced a prior nonfatal overdose.

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