Teen drug overdose deaths rise dramatically since 2019

HOUSTON — The number of teens and teens dying from drug overdoses has risen dramatically over the past two years.

Ranee Crest’s daughter, Lydia, was an unfortunate victim.

“She was beautiful, vibrant, passionate, amazing,” Crest said.

Crest said her daughter died in her bedroom in July 2020. The cause of death was accidental overdose.

Crest said her daughter struggled with addiction, but had been sober and recovering for more than a year.

“We were in the pandemic, and the isolation, I think, was a big factor,” she said.

According to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, fatal overdoses among adolescents almost doubled, from 492 in 2019 to 954 in 2020. They jumped another 20% in 2021.

George Youngblood, who worked with Teen and Family Services in Houston, said the COVID-19 pandemic has affected hundreds of children across the country in the same way Lydia has.

“The more we isolated our children without being able to do all the social-emotional learning they needed, the more I think the mental health crisis has become so acute. They suffered from anxiety and depression,” Youngblood said.

Youngblood said the number of children in the Teen and Family Services outreach program alone doubled after the pandemic began.

“For the fall semester, just in one of our school districts, we saw almost 600 children in crisis, which was an increase from the pre-pandemic number at this school of 350,” said said Youngblood.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that drugs are becoming increasingly deadly.

“There has been a huge increase in illegally manufactured prescription pills containing fentanyl, at least 30% of which have doses that can kill someone,” said institute director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. “We believe this may be one of the factors that puts adolescents at higher risk of overdose mortality.”

It left moms like Crest with a question, “So what do we do now?”

Last year, El Paso Customs and Border Protection alone seized more than six times the amount of fentanyl it seized in 2018.

Last week, President Biden released the first national drug control strategy focused on untreated addiction and drug trafficking. Federal officials said about two-thirds of drug overdoses in the past year were linked to fentanyl.

New York Post

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