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Houston — The number of teens dying from drug overdoses has increased dramatically over the past two years.
Ranee Crest’s daughter Lydia was an unfortunate victim.
“She’s beautiful, vibrant, passionate, and amazing,” Crest said.
Crest said her daughter died in her bedroom in July 2020. The cause of death was an accidental overdose.
Crest said her daughter has been battling addiction but has been sober and recovering for more than a year.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and I think quarantine is a big factor,” she said.
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Fatal overdose among teens nearly doubled, from 492 in 2019 to 954 in 2020, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They grow another 20% in 2021.
George Youngblood, who works with the Department of Youth and Family Services in Houston, said the COVID-19 pandemic has affected hundreds of children across the country, just like Lydia.
“The more we isolate our kids from doing all the social-emotional learning they need, the worse I think the mental health crisis is. They suffer from anxiety and depression,” Youngblood said.
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The number of children in youth and family services outreach programs alone has doubled since the pandemic began, Youngblood said.
“During the fall semester, in one of our districts alone, we saw nearly 600 children in crisis, up from 350 children at this school before the pandemic,” Youngblood said.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that drugs are becoming increasingly deadly.
“There has been a massive increase in illicitly manufactured prescription drugs containing fentanyl, of which at least 30 percent of the dose can kill someone,” said Institute Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. “We think this may be one of the factors that contributes to the higher risk of death from overdose in teens. »
It leaves moms like Crest with a question, “So what do we do now?” »
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Last year, El Paso Customs and Border Protection alone seized more than six times the amount of fentanyl seized in 2018.
Last week, President Biden released the first national drug control strategy for untreated addiction and drug trafficking. About two-thirds of overdoses over the past year were related to fentanyl, federal officials said.