SOCIETY: Big increase in number of teenage drug deaths

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The Independent Online
A dramatic rise in deaths among teenage drug abusers is reported by doctors today. Between 1985 and 1995, overall drug deaths among youngsters aged 15 to 19 increased by 8 per cent a year, their research showed. During this period, 436 teenagers died accidentally from drug poisoning - 303 of them male and 133 female.

The biggest killers were opiates, like heroin, which accounted for 21 per cent of the deaths. Deaths from these drugs soared by an average 27 per cent a year during the 11-year period.

Between 1985 and 1989, 17 teenagers died from taking opiates and related narcotics. In the four years between 1991 and 1995, this had risen to 67.

Death rates from other mind-altering drugs, such as ecstasy, increased by 23 per cent a year between 1985 and 1995. From 1985 to 1989 there were eight deaths in this category, but from 1991 to 1995 there were 32.

The figures, published in the British Medical Journal, emerged from a study led by Dr Ian Roberts from the Institute of Child Health, London. The researchers examined records of deaths obtained from the Office for National Statistics. Glenda Cooper