The number of American teens to die of a drug overdose leapt by nearly a fifth in 2015 after seven years of decline, a study by the National Center for HealthStatistics has found. The rate of teen overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids has increased sevenfold from 0.1 deaths per 100,000 15- to 19-year-olds in 2002 to 0.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2015. However, in 2015 (the most recent year with data available), the deaths increased again, by 19 percent.
Most of the overdose deaths were unintentional and driven primarily by opioids, including both prescribed painkillers such as oxycodone and illicit drugs such as heroin and street fentanyl.
Yet with policy changes, preventive measures, public awareness and emergency responses to save lives, the numbers of deaths related to abuse of prescription opioids are expected to decline.
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The drop tracks with previously reported declines in teen drug use, smoking, drinking, sex and other risky behaviors, Keyes said. That represents just 1.4% of the 52,404 people who died of drug overdoses that same year.
"This is a warning sign that we need to keep paying attention to what's happening with young people", said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University expert on drug abuse issues who wasn't part of the study. The boys' rate fell by a third in those years, but the girls' rate held fairly steady. Between 2013 and 2015, the number of teen girls dying of overdoses increased 35%. "What that means is that a small mistake in dosing can kill you".
Dayton is now one of four cities where the Drug Enforcement Agency is introducing a new 360 program to tackle the problem from all angles.
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The report comes as the Trump administration has given conflicting signals about how it intends to address the crisis. He also recalled First Lady Nancy Reagan's 1980s-era "Just Say No" to drugs slogan.
"To make it explode the way it did because for a while there I remember it was like all the rage and a lot of the younger people were talking about it", said Camerer.
The opioid crisis was recently declared a national emergency.
Several state governments have taken their own action to combat the opioid epidemic.
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