Drug overdoses among teenagers have doubled in two years, CDC says

Rainbow fentanyl m30.jpg
The image shows fentanyl pills in multiple colors, which the DEA says is an intentional move by the drug cartels to make them “look like candy.” (Drug Enforcement Administration)

Drug overdoses among teenagers have doubled in two years, CDC says

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Drug overdose deaths among teenagers have doubled in the past two years, with fatal overdoses of fentanyl occurring at an even higher rate, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

The CDC claimed that teenage overdoses increased 109% between 2019-2021 and that deaths caused by fentanyl increased 182% based on overdose data from 32 states. Officials have warned that the fatal overdoses are most commonly caused by cocaine, Adderall, and Xanax that become laced with fentanyl.


“The widespread availability of illicitly manufactured fentanyls (IMFs), proliferation of counterfeit pills resembling prescription drugs but containing IMFs or other illicit drugs, and ease of purchasing pills through social media have increased fatal overdose risk among adolescents,” the CDC said, according to the Daily Mail.

The report examined overdose information from 32 states that accounted for more than 75% of the fatalities in the two-year span. A total of 2,231 teenage overdose deaths were recorded in the study, with 1,871 (83%) caused by illicit fentanyl.

In most cases, the deaths were accidental, officials noted. Teenagers purchased counterfeit drugs on social media that had unknowingly been laced with the opioid. Of the 1,871 fentanyl overdoses, 1,313 had occurred when it was mixed with a nonopioid drug, according to the study.

The report comes as the Drug Enforcement Agency warned that social media was becoming a more dangerous marketplace for teenagers to acquire illegal drugs.

“No longer are we talking about meeting on the street and making that connection,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told CBS. “The dealer is in your kid’s pocket, along with the phone.”

The DEA published a guide earlier this year to help parents and educators recognize when teenagers could be buying drugs. The guide includes hints on the use of emojis to symbolize certain drugs in text and social media exchanges. For example, the pill emoji is often used to represent a range of drugs, including Adderall, ecstasy, Percocet, oxycodone, or Xanax. But the diamond, eight ball, and snow emojis often represent cocaine. However, diamonds can also mean methamphetamine.


Officials have warned of an opioid crisis in the United States, with a record 107,622 citizens dying of a drug overdose in 2021, up 15% from the year prior. Opioids were responsible for 70% of the deaths.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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