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1 in 5 Deaths Among Young Adults Linked to Opioids

June 04, 2018

New data published last week in JAMA Network Open details how the opioid crisis has affected certain age groups, and identifies which groups experienced the highest burden of opioid-related deaths during a 15-year period from January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2016.

During the time period of the study, opioid-related deaths increased 345 percent overall.

During 2016 alone, approximately 1.68 million years of life were lost due to premature death related to the nationwide opioid crisis. This is more years of life lost than to diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hypertension, and pneumonia, and is about one-tenth the number of deaths attributed to cancer.

In addition, during 2016:

  • One in every 65 deaths was related to opioids
  • Males accounted for more deaths than females at 67.5 percent; the median age at death was 40
  • Deaths among young Americans aged 15 to 24 years related to opioids was 12.4 percent, a significant increase from 4 percent for the same age group during 2001
  • Adults aged 24 to 35 years experienced the highest number of opioid-related deaths at 20 percent
  • Deaths related to opioids among adults aged 55 and older was 18.4 percent

The study stressed the significant increase among Americans aged 15 to 24 and the critical need for targeted programs and treatments specifically focused on this age group.

On April 4, Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf renewed the state’s opioid disaster declaration to support continuing efforts aimed at:

  • Removing barriers to treatment
  • Enhancing data collection and analysis
  • Aiding in the development of new initiatives that address the evolving crisis

HAP and the hospital community continue to explore and support initiatives based on preventing overdoses and treating substance use disorder though collaborations at the local, state, and federal level, and among providers.

For more information about how HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospitals are supporting efforts to stem the opioid epidemic, contact Michael J. Consuelos, MD, HAP’s senior vice president, clinical integration.

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