After several years of decline, the number of Teen deaths due to drug overdoses is on the rise, a new U.S. government report suggests. The opioid epidemic, namely abuse of prescription painkillers, caused a constant rise in adult Overdose deaths so the drop in teen statistics felt like a relief. Unfortunately, it didn't last for long. According to Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University expert on drug abuse issues, this means more attention should be given to young people and to what is going on in their lives.

Why a surge?

Sally Curtin of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead researcher, said it's not clear why there was an increase in teen overdose deaths in 2015 and if the trend will continue.

The study looked at adolescents ages 15 to 19. The overdose Death Rate was 3.1 per 100,000 teens in 2014 while in 2015 it rose to 3.7. Researchers describe most of those deaths as accidents, mainly caused by heroin. Statistics show adults succumb to addiction and overdose way more than teens. 700 to 800 teens die every year due to overdose while that number is much higher for adults, tens of thousands of them. Also, the number of adult overdose deaths has been rising for several consecutive years, while that was not the case with teens.

Teen overdose rate low for 6 years

CDC researchers went back in time and looked at the period from 2008 to 2014. They concluded that teen overdose deaths dropped after 2008 and were as low as 3 per 100,000 during 2012 through 2014. Previously, it was also reported that there was a decline in many types of risky behaviors in teens such as drinking, smoking, drug use, sex, and others.

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Some experts believe this is due to the fact that young people started spending more time using the Internet, smartphones and social media. When it comes to teen overdose deaths decline, boys made a better progress compared to girls. The death rate due to overdose for boys fell by a third during those years while the girls' rate didn't change much. Unfortunately, an increase followed. Among boys, the death rate in 2014 was 4 per 100,000 while in 2015 it was 4.6. For girls, it was an increase from 2.2 to 2.7. This rate for girls was the highest since at least 1979, according to Curtin.

Lethal drugs move available

When thinking of possible reasons for the increase, experts claim it could be because newer and more lethal kinds of opioids are increasingly available. One example is fentanyl. According to Curtin, if the drugs are stronger and more effective, the chances for a fatal outcome are higher as well.