Non-Fatal Drug Overdoses On Rise Among America’s Youth: Study

Amid the continuing opioid overdose epidemic in the United States, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths in recent years, researchers warn the number of non-fatal overdoses among the nation’s youth is continuing to increase.

In findings published in the January 2021 issue of the medical journal Pediatrics, researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) researchers indicate the number of drug overdoses among children, teens and young adults which did not result in a death has increased since 2016.

Researchers investigated trends in suspected non-fatal, drug-related, overdoses from all drugs among youth. They analyzed emergency department syndromic surveillance data to detect quarterly trends in overdoses form April 2016 to September 2019 among children 0 to 10, youth 11 to 14, and young adults up to 24 years old.

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According to the findings, there was a 2% increase per quarter in non-fatal drug overdoses among children ages 0 to 10. Similarly, children ages 11 to 14 had a 2.3% increase on average in non-fatal overdoses. Those numbers included overdoses for all types of drugs. However, suspected heroin overdoses decreased by 3.3% per quarter for youth and young adults ages 15 to 24 during the study period.

Another study published late last year indicated the coronavirus pandemic may be accelerating drug overdose problems. The highest number of drug overdose deaths occurring in the U.S. occurred during the 12 months leading up to May 2020.

In fact, drug overdose deaths in the United States have doubled over the last decade, indicates CDC data. The opioid abuse epidemic has largely been driven by doctor overprescribing habits at the urging and compensation by pharmaceutical companies.

In the new study, stimulant overdoses increased among all age groups. This includes stimulant drugs like cocaine and amphetamines like meth and ecstasy. Among ages 0 to 10 years old, stimulant overdoses increased 3.3%. Among ages 11 to 14, stimulant overdoses increased 4% and among youth 15 to 24 years old, stimulant overdoses increased 2.3%.

A recent study indicated opioid drug overdoses accounted for nearly 70% of all fatal overdoses in the United States. While research tends to focus on overdose deaths, the new data highlights the toll addictions plays in non-fatal overdoses especially among the nation’s youth.

“Suspected stimulant-involved drug overdoses appear to be rising among youth,” the researchers determined. “These findings could inform targeted interventions, such as stimulant-focused prevention, and comprehensive approaches, including school-based prevention and other strategies to lower morbidity and mortality.”


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