Juvenile drug deaths rose sharply by 2020, led by the drug fentanyl: shots.

Young deaths have begun to rise in large numbers since drug deaths in 2020, raising concerns that the trend could continue or escalate.

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Young deaths have begun to rise in large numbers since drug deaths in 2020, raising concerns that the trend could continue or escalate.

tillsonburg / photo gallery

For the first time in a year, overdose deaths among young people in the United States have risen sharply in 2020 and will continue to rise until 2021 as well. That’s according to the results of a new study published on Tuesday in JAMA.

“This is very scary because what we’ve seen in other parts of the population is that when overdose deaths start to rise, they continue to do that for a while. ”said Joe Friedman, a clinical health researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, and lead author of the new research.

“We’re really in the early days of adolescent overdose. And that’s the hard time to get involved,” he said.

Friedman and colleagues found that overdoses were more common among teens from 492 in 2019 to 954 in 2020, an increase of 94%. This is an increase of 20% in 2021 compared to the previous year. The prices were highest among African American and Alaskan youth, followed by Latino youth.

“For many years, we’ve seen an increase in overdose among the banks, and young people have been excluded from that,” Friedman said. “And now, for the first time, the overdose problem is reaching young people as well.”

The rise in mortality was not driven by the number of young people using drugs – drug use in this age group actually dropped during the course of the disease – but by the use of dangerous and highly potent forms of fentanyl. The study found that fentanyl -related deaths increased from 253 in 2019 to 680 next year. And by 2021, 77% of all teen deaths will be related to fentanyl.

However, unlike the deaths of rats, fentanyl to heroin is not responsible for the deaths among adolescents, Drs. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, did not participate in the new research.

“Young people are not looking for harmless opioids, [but] They are looking for prescription opioids and it is one of their favorite drugs: Vicodin, OxyContin, hydrocodone, “he said.” And they also look for benzodiazepines. ”

And they often end up buying the counterfeit powers of these drugs – counterfeit ones like the conventional prescription drugs used – that have become accustomed to fentanyl over the years.

“It’s estimated that about a third of those drugs are misused with fentanyl,” said Volkow, who is unknown to most of the teens and their families.

“In the past, you just relax,” he said. “Now you can take one benzodiazepine, one pill and it can kill you.”

That’s how occasional users or casual users are more likely to die, said Sheila Vakharia, deputy director of the department’s research and attendance at the school at the Drug policy Alliance.

That’s why it’s important to educate young people about the dangers of counterfeit drugs and provide them with tools to help them use them safely, he said.

Friedman agreed: “It’s very clear to young people that most of the bullets that are now found on the street are really fraudulent. [and containing fentanyl]. ”

It is also important to educate them that all medicines are not the same, he added. “Alcohol and cannabis aren’t a problem, of course. But we know that those drugs that are contaminated with fentanyl are not detected, even though the drugs and powders have a very high level of contamination.”

Vakharia says it is important to give children more information about drug use.

“Many of our young people are so determined not to use drugs that when they are seen around them, there is very little knowledge to stop taking care of them. themselves or their friends about the decisions. they make medicine all around, “Vakharia said.

Vakharia and her colleagues have developed a school course called Safety First, which teaches young people about the dangers of drug use and how to recognize symptoms. of an overdose and how to treat it.

Pilot studies of this study in schools around the country have shown that students who took this course know the symptoms of overdose and how to respond to it, Vakharia said.

He added that schools need to play a key role in addressing this, not only by adopting curricula as he and his colleagues have done, but by making it work. to naloxone, the drug overdose, can easily affect their students.

“Naloxone … is a very effective safety drug that we want to see in school’s first aid kits,” he said. “And to educate our young people on these drugs and to use this drug for overdose.”

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