Almost three dozen teens have died in Connecticut from opioid-related overdoses since 2012.
Out of about 2,600 deaths in the state, 33 were of teenagers (or about 1.3 percent). Ages ranged from 14 to 19, and the figures have been climbing since 2013 after falling from ten in 2012.
Meanwhile, the number of children hospitalized for prescription opioid poisoning has nearly doubled in 15 years, according to a new study published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. In 1997, about 1,000 patients between the ages of 1 and 19 were hospitalized related to opioid poisoning, and in 2012 that figure increased to about 3,000. Parents who suffer from substance abuse have a high risk of passing that on to children, researchers said.
In Connecticut, detailed hospitalization data is not available publicly — just data on deaths and treatment. Since 2012, prescription-opioid related deaths have decreased, while fentanyl and heroin-based overdose deaths combined have increased.
Researchers said they were surprised by the large increase in opioid poisoning among toddlers and preschoolers, most of which occurs after they find medication prescribed for someone else in the home.
Lead author Julie R. Gaither, an epidemiologist and postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Medicine, said her team used a database of pediatric hospitalizations that released records every three years up until 2012, the most recent data available.
Looking specifically at the type of opioids involved in poisonings, the data showed that the number dropped between 2009 and 2012 for prescription opioids while it grew for heroin in that same time frame. Across the country, prescription opioids dispensed also fell between 2011 and 2013. Researchers said this indicated teenagers were switching to heroin.