American youth lost 1.2M years of life to overdoses in 5 years, study shows

American adolescents and young adults lost an estimated 1.2 million years of life due to unintentional drug overdoses from 2015-19, according to a study published Jan. 31 in JAMA.

The study analyzed death records for people ages 10-24 from Jan. 1, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2019. The research team calculated years of life lost as standard life expectancy minus age at death. Male and female life expectancy at each individual age was determined using the 2017 Social Security Administration Period Life Table.

A total of 21,689 Americans ages 10-24 died of unintentional drug overdoses from 2015-19. The mean age at death was 17.6.

Young male Americans experienced 15,604 incidental overdose deaths, and young female Americans experienced 6,085.

The researchers said "years of lost life analysis has the potential to provide important context to the overdose crisis by better representing what is meant to society by the loss of adolescents and young people to unintentional drug overdose."

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