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Teenage drug overdose deaths have increased during a pandemic fueled by illicit fentanyl

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenage drug overdose deaths have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, largely attributable to illegal fentanyl.

Monthly drug overdose deaths nearly tripled amongst teens aged 10 to 19 in the primary two years of the pandemic. The variety of deaths increased from 31 in July 2019 to 87 in May 2021, then decreased to 51 in December 2021.

“While the variety of deaths appears to have began to say no towards the tip of 2021, it remains to be alarmingly higher than in 2019.” the authors wrote within the CDC’s Weekly Report on Morbidity and Mortality, which was released Thursday.

More than 2,200 teenagers overdosed over a 2.5 12 months period, 96% of whom were teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19. Fentanyl accounted for 84% of deaths, while opioids of any type were related to 91%.

Teen deaths with fentanyl nearly quadrupled from 21 in July 2019 to a peak of 78 in May 2021, before dropping to 44 in December 2021.

About 70% of the victims were boys and 30% girls. About 60% of the dead were white, 21% were Hispanic, and 13% were black.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that, in keeping with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is as much as 100 times stronger than morphine. It is used as a prescription drug within the US to treat people affected by severe pain after surgery. However, illicitly produced fentanyl, often consumed in pill form, is becoming an increasingly common reason behind overdose deaths.

There is evidence that 25% of stripling overdose deaths may have been related to counterfeit pills, which frequently resemble OxyContin or Xanax but often contain fentanyl as well. This might be an underestimate, because in keeping with studies, pills present at crime scenes have not all the time been tested.

“It is unclear whether the kids intended to take legal pharmaceutical drugs or whether or not they were aware that the pills were counterfeit,” the authors wrote.

About 41% of people that overdosed had a history of mental health problems. About 24% had prior psychiatric treatment, 19% had been diagnosed with depression, and 15% had a history of suicidal or self-harming behavior.

The authors of the CDC study said it was extremely necessary to coach teens in regards to the dangers of fentanyl and to expand access to naloxone, a drug that may reverse an overdose. Teenagers must also be made aware of the potential presence of illicit fentanyl in tablets which will resemble pharmaceuticals.

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