Teen overdose deaths on the rise — CDC

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Deaths among males were 70 percent higher than their female counterparts in 2015, but intentional overdoses were significantly higher among girls (21.9 percent of all overdose deaths), compared to their male counterparts (8.7 percent). Dr. Christopher Ruhm, a researcher at the University of Virginia who recently published a study showing that the opioid death toll may be higher than reported, believes that the number of teen deaths in 2016 and 2017 will also increase, NBC News reported.

The rate of teen drug overdose deaths in the United States climbed 19% from 2014 to 2015, from 3.1 deaths per 100,000 teens to 3.7 per 100,000, according to data released this week. More than 33,000 of those deaths were from opioids. The primary causes of the deaths have been attributed to heroin, prescription painkiller abuse and the emergence of newer lethal drugs such as fentanyl.

More teens are deciding to not use drugs, but those who do have entered "a different and more complex landscape", she said.

The tally involves drug-confirmed deaths up to August 15. These numbers involved teens ages 15 to 19.

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Levounis pointed out that, "The vast majority of adolescent deaths from opioids are due to unintentional overdose". This could lead to instantaneous death.

Levy said there needs to be more access to methadone-like drugs that help people to wean themselves off opioids.

The researchers have found that most of the deaths are accidental and are caused primarily by heroin. 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. According to ABC News, this problem is far more prevalent in adults than teenagers.

According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, almost half of Americans, or an estimated 119 million, use pain relievers, tranquilizers, sedatives or stimulants. Interestingly, the decline in death rate was mainly driven by boys, accounting for two-thirds of overdose deaths in teens. The spike comes after years of declining rates.

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