As overdose deaths among U.S. children and teens rise, experts say there are limited treatment options and coverage gaps that prevent needed care, Axios reports.
Median monthly overdose deaths among 10- to 19-year-olds rose by 109% between the second half of 2019 and the second half of 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from last year. Deaths involving illicit fentanyl rose by 182%.
Experts told Axios it can be especially difficult to find addiction treatment for children and teens. When it comes to substance use disorder, “most of the resources in this country have been geared towards adults,” said Matthew Cook, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Association. “We have a shortage of trained clinicians, whether they’re physicians, social workers or other clinicians, who can help identify these issues and then treat these issues in kids.”
Sharon Levy, chief of the division of addiction medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, said, “I think the only way we’ll really solve this problem is if addiction medicine specialists pair with physicians who care for young people.”