Researchers have turned to counting years of life lost instead of a sheer number of deaths when measuring the impact of drug overdoses among young people. USA Today reports on a Ohio State University study that found 10 to 24 year-olds lost nearly 1.25 million years. Ohio State's O. Trent Hall says, “Each one of these years is a year that people didn’t have with their loved one, and it’s important to think of that when we’re prioritizing our public health.”. Researchers counted the difference between the expected lifespan of 78.8 years and the age of the person at the time of their fatal overdose.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis, especially fentanyl, have been a driver for an increase in deaths over the past five years. Researchers found that 42 percent of pills tested for fentanyl contained a potentially lethal dose. Health experts say that much of the efforts to prevent overdoses are aimed at older adults and that more research is needed on how best to reach those between the ages of 10 to 24 with information, support and harm reduction techniques.