Adolescents and Life Lost to Opioids

Adolescents and Life Lost to Opioids

Researchers at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine have just published a study calculating the years of life lost in years by young people who have died from a drug overdose.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, looked at 3,296 teens ages 10-19 and 21,689 people ages 10-24 who died from an overdose between 2015 and 2019.

The research team found that the adolescents in this study lost a combined 200,000 years of life while the larger group of young people lost 1.25 million years of life.

Think about that.

Each of those young people lost the chance for productive lives and loving families of their own. What might some of them have achieved in their lives had they not died from a drug overdose?

And what can be done to reduce this tragic loss of life? That’s a question the lead study author addressed: “Our study shows overdose mortality among adolescents and young people is unacceptably high. Public health interventions to protect this vulnerable group are urgently needed,” said Dr. O. Trent Hall, MD.

Yes – urgently needed.

The study also points to another challenge.

Investments in research and intervention tend to focus on older adults. More emphasis must be placed on better informing young people, families, educators, health care professionals, and law enforcement on prevention, the warning signs of drug abuse, and treatment options.

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