Gender, age affect youth drug-overdose rates

Gender, age affect youth drug-overdose rates

Significant sex and age-based differences exist among young people who experience a nonfatal opioid overdose, according to researchers at Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center.

The researchers discovered that girls between 11 and 16 years old have a higher nonfatal opioid overdose rate compared to boys. For the age group 17 to 24 years old, the trend reverses.

“We know that adolescents and young adults are impacted by the opioid overdose epidemic, but there are not enough data about how or if their risks may be different from adults,” said Dr. Sarah Bagley, the study’s corresponding author and Boston Medical Center’s adolescent and young adult addiction treatment program director. “In order to help curb this increase, we need to better understand the issues facing our patients so that we can develop tailored approaches to address any underlying conditions that may contribute to the risks for overdose.”

The researchers studied data from 20,312 young people between the ages of 11 and 24 who experienced a nonfatal overdose between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2017. Approximately 42 percent were female.

Females had higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide attempts, whereas males had higher substance-use disorders.

Between 1999 and 2016, mortality for opioid overdoses grew 268 percent while opioid overdoses spiked 404 percent.