American Teens Are Dying In Droves From Rampant Heroin Abuse


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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Drug overdose deaths are on the rise for teenagers, more than doubling since 1999, fueled by increasing heroin use among America’s youth.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report Wednesday showing drug overdose deaths among teens ages 15 to 19 rose 15 percent for males and 35 percent for females between 2014 and 2015. Drug overdoses more than doubled between 1999 and 2007 for American teens but went into a decline between 2007 and 2014, reports WebMD.

There were a total of 772 drug overdose deaths for teens in 2015 and heroin was the most common cause for death. Experts say prescription painkillers are the main driver of death for middle age and older Americans, while heroin is more prevalent with the younger generation.

Experts say the heroin used by teens is often contaminated with fentanyl, a painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. The substance is blamed for the sharp rise in heroin fatalities over the past few years.

“Fentanyl came along in 2014, making the heroin environment deadlier,” Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, told WebMD. “The Opioid Commission in their draft report make several key, achievable and bipartisan recommendations that if adopted, by the president and through congressional legislation, will make significant strides in addressing the current crisis. If action is slow, delayed or diluted, we will lose a significant portion of the young generation.”

On the advice of the White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, President Donald Trump declared the epidemic a national emergency Aug. 10. The commission submitted a report to Trump July 31, noting that “with approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”

A recent STAT analysis predicts the annual death toll from opioids will rise by roughly 35 percent between 2015 and 2027. Their research predicts up to 500,000 people could die from opioids over the next decade. The experts agree, even in a best-case scenario, the crisis will not visibly start to subside until after 2020.

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