Report: teen deaths from drugs on increase, opioids biggest culprit by far

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A recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that, after a seven-year decline, teen deaths by drug overdoses are again on the increase. 

The study released earlier this month stated that from 1999-2007 the death rate among adolescents 15-19 years old more than doubled, from 1.6 deaths per 100,000 to 4.2. That rate dropped by 26 percent from 2007-2014. However, from 2014-2015 it rose again, from 3.1 deaths per 100,000 to 3.7, a 19 percent increase. 

By far, more deaths occurred through opioids, specifically heroin. In 2006 fatalities from opioid overdoses jumped to 2.5 deaths per 100,000, a 25 percent increase from the previous year. That rate held relatively steady until a drop from 2012-14 to 2.0 deaths per 100,000. But, from 2014-15, it rose again to 2.4, a 20 percent increase. 

In 2013 heroin overtook other opioids as the leading cause of drug overdose deaths among teens after years of usage being on the increase. Since 2009, drug overdose deaths due to heroin have climbed 150 percent.

From 2011-14, the rate among males had fallen by 30 percent, from 5.4 deaths per 100,000 to 4.0. That changed in 2015, though, as the rate increased to 4.6 (15 percent). 

Overall, drug overdose death rates remain highest among males, at 4.6 deaths per 100,000 (females, 2.7). Collectively, most overdose deaths (80.4 percent) are unintentional. In terms of intent when it came to overdose deaths, more females did so as a form of suicide (21.9 percent) than males (8.7 percent). The majority of male overdose deaths – 86.2 percent – came unintentionally. 

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