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Opioid deaths in youth triple.

Opioid-related deaths among teenagers and young adults in Ontario tripled from 2014 to 2021, while drug treatment rates significantly declined, according to a new report.

Opioid-related deaths among individuals aged 15 to 24 increased during the first year of the pandemic to 169 deaths, compared to 115 the previous year, according to research led by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network at Unity Health Toronto.


Only 37.1% of teenagers and young adults with opioid use disorder who died from drugs had received any treatment in the last year of analysis, compared to 48.6% of adults aged 25 to 44, the researchers found.


They discovered that emergency department visits related to opioids quadrupled during that time. Ontario's Chief Coroner's Office, Public Health Ontario, the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service, and the non-profit research institute ICES also participated in the project, which analyzed provincial demographic and healthcare data from 2014 to 2021 for the 15 to 24 age group.


During that time, 752 young individuals died, there were 711 hospitalizations, and 5,401 emergency department visits.


The researchers also found that the use of medication to treat opioid use disorder decreased by 50% during those seven years, and in-person residential treatment dropped by 73%.

Fentanyl was responsible for 94% of opioid-related deaths.

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