A new US Government report has revealed that teen deaths, as a result of drug overdose, are on an increase after years of decline. Researcher Sally Curtin from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that teen drug overdose increased in 2015 but the reason is not clear. Moreover, it is also unclear whether this trend is here to stay or go away.

Newer and more potent drugs to blame?

Adult overdose deaths in the US have soared and until 2014, the drop in teen deaths was considered a bright spot. Opioid deaths among adults are a major cause of worry, and now teen deaths are also on a rise. The primary causes of the deaths have been attributed to heroin, prescription painkiller abuse and the emergence of newer lethal drugs such as fentanyl.

An expert on the issue of drug abuse in the US, Columbia University’s Katherine Keyes, who was also part of the study, stated that the rise in teen deaths is a clear signal that threat is still there.

The report that CDC released on Wednesday focused on young people aged 15-19 years. Experts are providing various reasons for the increase in teenage death rate as a result of drug overdose. One possible reason could be the newer drugs that are more lethal forms of opioids. Drugs such as fentanyl are often mixed with heroin for more impact. This could lead to instantaneous death. The newer drugs are more potent and this proves fatal for many teenagers.

Drug overdose deaths in adults a major concern

The researchers have found that most of the deaths are accidental and are caused primarily by heroin.

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While the overdose death rate was 3.1 per 100,000 teens in 2014, this rate rose to 3.7 in 2015. According to ABC News, this problem is far more prevalent in adults than teenagers. Thousands of adults die from drug overdoses every year compared to about 700-800 deaths among teenagers. In fact, the teenage deaths fell in 2008, and from 2012 to 2014, it dropped to as low as three per 100,000.

While some experts believe that the decline is also related to time spent on social media and smartphones, the drop is in fact in line with the reduction in teenage sex, drinking, smoking and drug abuse. Interestingly, the decline in death rate was mainly driven by boys, accounting for two-thirds of overdose deaths in teens. The rate in boys fell by a third though the girls’ rate held steady. However, in 2015, the boys’ rate rose to 4.6 from four in the previous year. Girls’ rate increased from 2.2 to 2.7.