United States Sees 19% Increase in Teen Drug Overdoses
An opioid crisis has been sweeping the nation with an exponential increase in deaths every year. Many states have declared public emergencies on the opioid crisis throughout the year of 2017. Finally, last week President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. This declaration allows states and federal agencies to receive more resources and power to combat the opioid crisis. Trump’s declaration comes at a much needed time as the United States has seen a 19% increase in drug overdoses amongst teenagers. An increase in overdoses that is mainly due to the more popular use of heroin and other synthetic drugs like fentanyl.
The Rise in Heroin and Fentanyl
In 2015, 135,000 people used heroin for the first time. The number of new users has only gotten larger the past two years, especially amongst teenagers. While overdoses from methadone and prescription opioids have decreased in recent years, there has been an increase in overdoses due to heroin and synthetic drug use. Heroin and synthetic drugs like fentanyl have been a large contributor to the overdoses of teenagers. In a little over 10 years the rate of teen overdose from synthetic drugs has jumped from 0.1 out of 100,000 deaths in 2002 to 0.7 out of 100,000 deaths in 2015. According to the United States Health and Human Services, drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death of Americans. It’s clearly time for the opioid crisis to be taken as a serious public health issue.
Trump's National Emergency Declaration
On August 10 of 2017, President Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. He believes one of the key ways to combat this issue is to reach out to younger people. President Trump’s goal of tackling the opioid crisis involves a heavy focus on prevention. In a White House Press Release President Trump said the following,
"The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don’t start, they won't have a problem. If they do start, it's awfully tough to get off. So we can keep them from going on, and maybe by talking to youth and telling them, "No good; really bad for you" in every way. But if they don’t start, it will never be a problem."
Combating the Opioid Crisis
Now that the opioid crisis is officially a national emergency the entire United States receives a lot more help to combat this epidemic. Although opioid drug overdoses increased in teens, the amounts of teenage deaths are quite small compared to the overall all amount of opioid overdose deaths. In 2015, 772 drug overdose deaths were teens out of over 33,000 drug overdose deaths related to opioids. This shows how big of a problem the opioid crisis is for everyone, not just teenagers. The nation recommends all states to increase treatment capacity for substance abusers along with establishing and funding better access to medication-assisted treatment programs. A national emergency helps bring more awareness to opioid abuse issue and mobilizes more resources. Hopefully, the United States is now on the right track for tackling the opioid crisis.