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Youth Opioid Deaths Often Involve Other Substances, Too

MONDAY, Dec. 7, 2020 -- In 2018, polysubstance-involved opioid overdose deaths became more common than deaths involving opioids alone among U.S. youth, according to a study published online Nov. 23 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Jamie K. Lim, M.D., from the Boston Medical Center, and colleagues examined national trends in polysubstance-involved opioid overdose deaths among U.S. youth (age, 13 to 25 years) using data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research Multiple Cause of Death file from 1999 through 2018.

The researchers found that opioid-only and polysubstance-involved overdose deaths among youth increased by 384 and 760 percent, respectively. In 2018, polysubstance-involved opioid overdose deaths were more common than deaths involving only opioids (polysubstance: 0.22 deaths per 100,000 individuals; opioids only: 0.19 deaths per 100,000 individuals). There were 4,623 opioid overdose deaths reported among youth in 2018, with synthetic opioids most commonly involved (73.3 percent). More than half of all deaths (53.6 percent) involved one or more other substance. Among 2018 overdose deaths involving other substances, cocaine was the substance most commonly involved (39.9 percent).

"These results underscore the evolving heterogeneity of the overdose epidemic among youth," the authors write.

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Posted: December 2020

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