Home Emergency Medicine Drug Overdose Rates Up Substantially Among U.S. Youth

Drug Overdose Rates Up Substantially Among U.S. Youth

Prescription meds, heroin largely to blame, with some states hit especially hard

MONDAY, Nov. 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Nationwide, the drug overdose mortality rate has more than doubled during the past decade among people aged 12 to 25 — rising from 3.1 deaths per 100,000 in 1999-2001 to 7.3 deaths in 2011-2013, according to the Trust for America’s Health’s new Reducing Teen Substance Misuse: What Really Works report.

The death toll from drug overdose is rising fast in specific pockets of the nation. For instance, the rates have more than quadrupled in five states (Kansas, Montana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Wyoming); more than tripled in 12 states (Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia); more than doubled in 18 states (Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, and Tennessee). West Virginia had the highest rate of drug overdoses, well above the national average, while North Dakota had the lowest.

Prescription drugs, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, were responsible for more than half of all overdose deaths in 2013, accounting for 22,700 fatalities. Many young people who are addicted to prescription drugs wind up switching to heroin because it’s cheaper and often easier to access. About 45 percent of people who use heroin also are addicted to prescription narcotics.

Males are more than twice as likely to die of a drug overdose as females, according to the report. And young adults ages 19 to 25 are particularly at risk for a fatal overdose. The national overdose mortality rate for that age group is 12.7 per 100,000, far above the overdose mortality rate of 1.5 per 100,000 for children 12 to 18.

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