Teens and young adults are some of the most vulnerable drug abusers, with deaths from overdose quadrupling in many states. Throughout the nation, overdose deaths among 12- to 25-year-olds have doubled during the past ten years. This and other staggering statistics have been recently reported in a Trust for America's Health report entitled, "Reducing Teen Substance Misuse: What Really Works." Cigarettes were once considered the most common teen experimentation and addiction problem. But incredibly, cigarettes are used by 15% fewer American teens and young adults than drugs. A shocking 40% of high school students experiment with or regularly use illegal drugs. Of all adult drug abusers, 90% started their addiction before the age of 18 years. As the Trust for America's Health report indicates, many adolescents and young adults using drugs don't have the opportunity to gain freedom from addiction or even continue into adulthood, as they become fatal overdose statistics. In one of every three states, drug overdose deaths have at least tripled. There are now 7.3 deaths per 100,000 people in this age bracket, a steep increase from 3.1 deaths per 100,000 in the year 2000.
As among other age groups, prescription painkillers are some of the drugs most responsible for overdose deaths. OxyContin and Vicodin are considered drugs of choice, with more than half of the deaths attributed to these narcotics. 22,700 people aged 12 to 25 died from these drugs in 2013 alone. Because heroin provides a similar high and is less expensive and easier to access than prescription medications, many students often transition to this highly addictive and often fatal option. Approximately 45% of those using heroin are also narcotic painkiller addicts.
The state with the highest rate of deaths by drug overdose is West Virginia. West Virginia youths and young adults are five times more likely to die from illegal drug use than the same age group in North Dakota, where the fewest overdose deaths occur in this age bracket. Almost double the number of males die versus females. In the past 12 years, 18 states have more than doubled in the rate of young adult and teen overdose deaths. 12 states have suffered a tripling of their overdose statistics. Five states, Kansas, Montana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming, have quadrupled. These numbers indicate that overdose deaths are already at a crisis point.
The only sure way to help teens avoid death by overdose is to help them remain drug free, or to gain sobriety after addiction has taken hold. Even teens experimenting are at substantial risk for becoming adult addicts, according to the Trust for America's Health report. Turning to drugs as a means of escapism or due to peer pressures at such a young age is highly indicative of potential future drug addiction. Treatment centers often provide specialized programs for young adults, teens, and even preteens. Some centers are dedicated entirely to drug users in these age groups. Such programs not only provide freedom from addiction, but hope for a productive and healthy future that all young people deserve. If you would like to know more about the danger of overdose for teens and young adults, contact Freedom From Addiction.
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