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New study shows fentanyl is a driving force in teen overdose deaths

Since February, MCMEO says 2 teens died from fentanyl overdoses
Posted at 5:04 PM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 18:04:51-04

MILWAUKEE — Since February, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office (MCMEO) has investigated the deaths of two teenagers from fentanyl overdoses.

The victims include a 12-year-old and a 16-year-old.

The deaths contribute to a dangerous trend happening in the country. A new study shows fentanyl is the driving spike in teen overdoses. According to NBC, drug overdose deaths among teenagers have risen sharply in the last two years. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid up to 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin, NBCreports.

According to a research letter in JAMA, from 2019 to 2020, the rate of overdose deaths almost doubled in the country for teens 14 to 18 years old. In the first half of 2021, it rose another 20%.

Among the general population in the U.S., overdose deaths rose 30% from 2019 to 2020, and 12% from 2020 to 2021.

Fentanyl Opioids CNN
One Ohio county had an "unusually high number" of overdose deaths in a little over a day, the county's coroner said.

According to NBC, most teen overdose deaths recorded by the CDC were caused by fentanyl.

According to JAMA, nearly 5 out of every 100,000 teens aged 14 to 18 (or more than 950 teens) died of an overdose in 2020. The research letter also revealed 70% of those deaths were from illicit fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. That rose to 77% among the 1,150 teens who died of an overdose in the first six months of 2021.

NBC reports fentanyl is being pressed into counterfeit pills to look like prescription pills. Teens may think they are taking Xanax, Percocet or Vicodin instead of fentanyl.

Experts say it is too soon to connect teen drug use to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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