The Opioid Crisis Seems to be Getting Better, but the Death Rate Still Continues to Rise

The opioid crisis and the misuse of prescription drugs are prevalent throughout adolescents. According to the Health and Human Services, 3.6 percent of adolescents ages 12-17 reported misusing opioids in 2016 and the percentage for older young adults were twice as high.

This percentage has decrease over the last couple of years. According to the Monitoring the Future National Survey Results, 1975-2018, the misuse of pain medication, excluding heroin, decreased from a peak of 9.5 in 2004 to 3.4 percent in 2018 among grade 12 respondents. More specifically, the “past-year misuse of Vicodin decreased from a peak of 10.5 percent in 2003 to 1.7 percent in 2018 and Oxycontin misuse has decreased from the peak rate of 5.5 percent in 2005 to 2.3 percent in 2018.”

Additionally, this national survey showed that students in the 12th grade believe that opioids are harder to obtain than in the past. In 2010, 54 percent of 12th grade respondents believed that these drugs were easily attainable, as compared to only 32.5 percent in 2018.

It may seem that the situation in the opioid crisis is becoming under control. However, the student death rates from overdose are increasing. In 2015, 4,235 adolescents between the ages 15 to 24 died from a drug-related overdose and over half of these were derivable to opioids. In addition, a larger population face health consequences from the misuse of opioids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that for every young adult overdose death, “there are 119 emergency room visits and 22 treatment admissions.”

Click to access mtf-overview2018.pdf