The US Department of Health and Human Services through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a report this month (August 2017) outlining some key findings about adolescent drug overdose. According to the data from the National Vital Statistics System, drug overdose deaths in US youth aged 15-19 have increased overall since 1999 to 2007, with a decline through 2014, and now back on the incline. Death rates were highest for opioids, specifically heroin.
The report (www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db282.pdf) notes that "the death rate due to drug overdose among adolescents aged 15-19 more than doubled from 1999 to 2007, declined by 26% from 2007 to 2014, and then increased in 2015."
Death rates tripled from 1999-2007; however, rates generally declined from 2007 to 2014 - only to begin rising again in 2015.
As we unite and work toward prevention efforts for our youth and communities, some questions about these trends in youth opioid use may help us guide our efforts.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report 2006, the "estimated area under illicit opium poppy cultivation decreases by 22 per cent." Could less cultivation area made heroin and other opioids harder to come by?
Alaskan schools were encouraged to utilize a new drug prevention program called "Think Smart Curriculum" according to a 2006 Report that focused on prevention of inhalants and use of harmful legal products. Could focusing on those issues in schools have also prevention opioid use?
In 2015, 772 drug overdose deaths occurred in the same age group. According to an article in the NY Times, overdose deaths are now the leading cause of death for those under the age of 50.
Another report earlier this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the number of drug overdoses involving opioids between 2008-2014 was likely underestimated by 24%. It could be that there wasn't much change in that timeframe and we have, unfortunately, seen an uprise overall.
What do you think? Do you remember any significant prevention or family life impacts during 2005-2015? What prevention efforts could help prevent our youth. Are circumstances unique in Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula? Or do national models accurately represent our youth?
We'd love to hear from our community!