Drug overdose deaths among US teens doubled from 2019 to 2021 – even as use of illicit substances declined – as fentanyl fueled a nationwide crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today that teenage overdoses increased 109 percent over the two years. Deaths caused by fentanyl alone increased 182 percent.
Officials warn that many US teens are dying after ingesting drugs like cocaine, Adderall or Xanax that are contaminated with fentanyl. They also warn that social media platforms have become a new marketplace for illicit drugs.
The nation’s drug overdose crisis has struck everyone, with a record 107,622 Americans dying of a drug overdose last year. More than 70 percent of deaths were caused by synthetic opioid like fentanyl.
The number of US teens that died of a drug overdose surged from 2019 to 2021. Over the two year period, 2,231 overdose deaths occurred, with 1,871 caused by fentanyl. During the first month of the study, July 2019, 31 teen overdoses were recorded. This figure peaked at 87 deaths in May 2021, and 51 were recorded during December 2021, the study’s final month
The DEA warns that teens are using emojis as code to purchase illicit drugs. These include a pill to signify Percocet, Adderall and MDMA, plant emojis to mean marijuana and snow to represent cocaine. The agency warns that many illicit drugs are contaminated with deadly amounts of fentanyl
Teen deaths from overdosing on fentanyl (grey line) have tripled since the Covid pandemic began (dotted line between 2019 and 2020). Scientists say this may be linked to the synthetic opioid being mixed with other drugs such as cocaine and heroin
For the report, CDC officials gathered overdose data from 32 states between July 2019 and December 2021. These states account for more than 75 percent of drug overdose deaths.
Across the entire period, 2,231 teen overdose deaths were recorded. Just over 83 percent, 1,871 total, were caused by illicit fentanyl.
The CDC warns that these overdoses are nearly-always accidental. Teens will purchase counterfeit pills and drugs that are tainted by the synthetic opioid.
More than two-thirds of the fentanyl deaths, 1,313, occurred when a person used a non-opioid drug contaminated with it.
DEA declares war on social media fentanyl dealers: Agency reveals secret emoji ‘drug menu’ used to target young buyers
America’s leading drug officials are turning their attention towards social media platforms – as they warn fentanyl dealers are now in every teenagers’ pockets.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) said it is investigating 120 cases of a fentanyl overdose that involve purchases made on the sites. It also warns that emoji code languages are used for young buyers to avoid suspicion from their parents.
Fentanyl has single-handedly fueled a new drug epidemic in the US. The synthetic opioid was responsible for 70 percent of the more than 100,000 overdose deaths in 2021 and the number of teens killed by the drug has tripled since the pandemic began.
It is used as a potent cutting agent, with drug dealers lacing everything from cocaine, Xanax and Percocet. But the frighteningly strong drug can kill at doses of just 2 milligrams of fentanyl – or the equivalent of five grains of salt.
Across the included states, 31 teen overdose deaths were recorded in July 2019. This figure reached a peak of 87 during May 2021, before falling to 51 in December 51.
From July 2019 to December 2021, a 64 percent increase in deaths was recorded. There was a 180 percent difference from the starting month to the peak in May.
These teens would often overdose at home, and usually in cases where there was a bystander present.
This data is revealed as Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) warns social media platforms are becoming marketplaces for these dangerous drugs.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told CBS: ‘no longer are we talking about meeting on the street and making that connection…the dealer is in your kid’s pocket along with the phone.’
Fentanyl is singe-handedly fueling America’s drug crisis. It is used as a potent cutting agent, with drug dealers lacing everything from cocaine, Xanax and Percocet.
A record 107,622 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2021, a new record and 15 percent increase from the previous year.
Synthetic opioids like fentanyl were responsible for more than 70 percent of those deaths.
More Americans died from a fentanyl overdose in 2021 than died in the Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam wars combined.
There are particularly sharp rises among young people. The US suffered 884 teen fentanyl deaths in 2021, a University of California, Los Angeles study found.
This is a 30 percent increase from the 680 recorded in 2020, and a 250 percent jump from the 253 logged in 2019.
It comes even as drug use among teens in the US has stagnated. The National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed new data today showing 41 percent of US teens used an illicit drug in 2022.
This figure matches the total from 2021, and is a drop from the 46 percent recorded in 2020.
Marijuana is by far the most popular, with 38 percent of teens reporting use. Just over 13 percent of teens used an illicit drug that was not marijuana this year.
The most popular of other drugs were Hallucinogens, which include LSD, Psilocybin and DMT.
Contaminated drugs are becoming more common, though, leading to a surge in deaths.
Researchers from the CDC wrote in their report: ‘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 DEA also published a guide for parents, educators and other authority figures to recognize when teens may be buying drugs.
It highlights how emojis are used as a code for purchasing drugs.
The pill emoji can be used to represent Percocet, Oxycodone, Xanax, Adderall or MDMA.
Meanwhile, snow emojis, an eight-ball and diamonds could signal that a teen is purchasing cocaine.