Drug overdose deaths among teenagers have ticked up after years of decline, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A total of 772 adolescents aged 15 to 19 years old, or a rate of 3.7 per 100,000, died from overdosing in 2015. That’s up from 3.1 per 100,000 the year before. The 2015 rate is also more than double what it was in 1999.
Heroin was the leading cause of overdose death, a result of the country’s growing opioid epidemic. The report indicates three times more teenagers died in 2015 from heroin than in 1999.
Data also shows more than 80 percent of overdose deaths among teens in 2015 were unintentional.
Deaths among males were 70 percent higher than their female counterparts in 2015, but intentional overdoses were significantly higher among girls (21.9 percent of all overdose deaths), compared to their male counterparts (8.7 percent).
Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, according to data compiled by the New York Times.
Several state governments have taken their own action to combat the opioid epidemic. President Donald Trump convened an opioid task force in March to study the crisis. A preliminary report from the task force last month asked Trump to declare a state of emergency to dedicate more resources to the epidemic. Last week, Trump said he intended to declare such an emergency, but has not yet formally taken action to do so.
Many states are also suing pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and distribute highly addictive painkillers. Attorney generals in Ohio, Missouri and Oklahoma filed lawsuits against the opioid industry earlier this year.
According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, nearly half of Americans, or an estimated 119 million, use pain relievers, tranquilizers, sedatives or stimulants. In 2015, 18.9 million people aged 12 or older misused prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year.