Opioids are responsible for 20 percent of deaths among young adults, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open.
The study, conducted by researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, found that the opioid epidemic is taking a significant toll on young adults in the U.S. between the ages of 24 and 35. In fact, opioid overdoses are killing one in five of them – a 292 percent increase since 2001.
“Despite the amount of attention that has been placed on this public health issue, we are increasingly seeing the devastating impact that early loss of life from opioids is having across the United States,” said Dr. Tara Gomes, lead author of the study, in a statement.
Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death among adults younger than 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016 alone. Two thirds of drug overdose deaths were caused by opioids, medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat pain. But the drugs are highly addictive, making them targets for misuse and abuse. This opioid crisis has caused life expectancy in the U.S. to drop for the second consecutive year in a row for the first time since an outbreak of the flu in 1962-1963.
Health officials predict the opioid epidemic in the U.S. will continue to spin out of control, estimating that the number of deaths will jump to a staggering 71,600 for 2017.
“In the absence of multidisciplinary approach to this issue that combines access to treatment, harm reduction and education, this crisis will impact the U.S. for generations,” Gomes cautioned.
Source: Western Journal