About 22 Adolescents Died Weekly From Overdoses in 2022, Driven by Fentanyl-Laced Prescription Pills

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.

An average of 22 adolescents 14 to 18 years of age died in the U.S. each week in 2022 from drug overdoses, raising the death rate for this group to 5.2 per 100,000—driven by fentanyl in counterfeit pills, new research finds.

Adolescent overdoses had more than doubled among this group between 2019 and 2020 and have since intensified to such an extent that the death count equals a high school classroom each week and is now the third largest cause of pediatric deaths behind firearm-related injuries and motor vehicle collisions.

The increase is, however, not due to more illicit drug use—which has, in fact, fallen over the years; for example, excluding cannabis, the rate of any illicit drug use among just 12th graders had fallen from about 21% to 8% in the 20 years since 2002. Instead, the increase is the result of drugs becoming deadlier due to fentanyl, which is increasingly found in counterfeit oxycodone, benzodiazepines, and other prescription pills that fall into the hands of adolescents.

“Teenagers are likely to be unaware of just how high-risk experimenting with pills has become, given the recent rise in counterfeit tablets,” said study co-author Joseph Friedman, a researcher at UCLA.

“It’s often impossible to tell the difference with the naked eye between a real prescription medication obtained from a doctor and a counterfeit version with a potentially deadly dose of fentanyl. It’s urgent that teenagers be given accurate information about the real risks and strategies to keep themselves and their friends safe.”

The researchers found that adolescent overdoses were occurring at double the national average in Arizona, Colorado, and Washington State between 2020 and 2022.

Source: MedicalXpress

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on Crosswalk.com and Religiontoday.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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