Youth overdose deaths jumped across the U.S. amid the pandemic

A container of fentanyl pills

File photo: This photo provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Phoenix Division shows a container holding some of the 30,000 fentanyl pills the agency seized in one of its bigger busts in Tempe, Ariz., in August 2017. (Drug Enforcement Administration via AP)

Delaware was one of 47 states to contribute data to a CDC report highlighting the rising number of drug overdoses among children in the country.

Data from the CDC shows that between July 2019 and September 2021, middle school and high school aged children across the U.S. reported using less illicit substances in 2020. However, there was a 94% increase in overdose deaths within the same group during that period of time, and a 20% increase from 2020 to 2021.

The number of monthly overdose deaths increased by 65% overall, from 31 in July 2019 to 51 in December 2021, peaking at 87 in May 2021.

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The CDC says this is due to the potency of the drugs being taken, considering deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl increased 182%.

Roughly 90% of overdose deaths involved opioids, and 83.9% involved illegally manufactured fentanyl.

Most children who overdosed had no prior opioid use history. Roughly a quarter of the deaths were connected to counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.

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Roughly 60% of the deaths took place at the person’s residence. Two-thirds of the deaths could have taken place with a bystander present. The CDC also says roughly 41% of the people that died had a history of a mental health condition or treatment for substance use disorder.

From July 2019 to December 2021, the median monthly overdose deaths increased 109%.

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