Study Shows Opioid Epidemic Cause of 1 in 5 Young Adult Deaths

Opioid Epidemic Study Reveals That 1 in 5 Young Adult Deaths Are Caused by Opioid Abuse

In the devastating American opioid epidemic, a shocking new statistics has been released on the JAMA Network: in 2016, one in five deaths in the young adult population was a result of opioid overdose. These and other findings in the study are causing us to have to have to rethink policies regarding drugs as well as whom the focus of harm reduction campaigns should be.

Statistics from the Burden of Opioid-Related Mortality in the United States Study

The study was published on June 2018 and focused on what burden the opioid epidemic has caused over a 15-year period. Researches spent their time collecting data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, specifically looking at the causes of death, the age of the deceased and their gender – from 2001 to 2016.

Researchers then found that between 2001 and 2016, the total number of overdose deaths from prescription opioids and heroin increased sharply from just 0.4 percent to 1.5 percent of the population – a substantial increase of 292 percent. In 2016, as many as 1 in 65 people died from the abuse of opioids, which is a concerning increase from just 1 in 225 in 2001. According to their findings, the opioid epidemic during the study period resulted in roughly 1.68 million lost years of potential life. The majority of these deaths were in the male population with men making up roughly 67.5 percent of the deaths in the opioid epidemic.

Much of the harm reduction focus has been on the middle-aged population, but findings in the study suggest another high-risk age group: 15 to 36. In the deaths of people aged 15 to 24, the number of young adults that died from opioid overdose was 12.4 percent.

Another one of the most surprising facts of the study is that for people aged 24 to 35, as many as 20 percent suffered overdose deaths caused by opioid abuse. That means that one in every five young adults aged 24 to 35 died as a direct result of prescription pain killer and heroin abuse.

Researchers’ Conclusion

The study has shed more light on the opioid crisis and the need for a change of focus in most of the harm reduction strategies and various policies. Researchers suggest that without a greater focus on the young adult population in the opioid crisis, that there will likely be a further increase in the number of opioid-related deaths.

Treatment for the Abuse of Opioids

If you find yourself abusing opioids or know of someone you care about that might be abusing opioids, then help is just a few short steps away. Today, it is possible to effectively treat an opioid addiction with a combination of treatments that help to tackle all of the aspects of the disease.

After an initial assessment of the addict, a medical detox can commence if there is a need for it. Opioids are highly addictive and stopping the drug when cravings set in can be extremely difficult. Thankfully, there are safe medications that can help to taper the individual off opioids at a pace that makes the symptoms of withdrawal much less.

Subsequent to a medical detox, cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing and motivational incentives are then utilized in a therapeutic setting. These treatment methods are aimed at dealing with some of the underlying issues an addict may have that caused them to feel the need to abuse a drug.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.