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opioid crisis

Young adults are being prescribed opioids at surprisingly high rates

The epidemic of opioid addiction in our country has gotten plenty of attention over the years. But a new study points out that a pretty significant population of the country might be sitting right in our blind spot.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics on Tuesday, revealed that adolescents are being prescribed a worrying amount of opioids. Researchers analyzed 11 years of data taken from patients in emergency rooms and outpatient clinics who were between 13 and 22 years old. That 11-year span, from 2005 to 2015, encompassed 78,000 total visits, in which 15 percent of ER visits and 3 percent of outpatient visits resulted in an opioid prescription.

Among the most common situations when the patients were prescribed opioids were dental disorders (60 percent), collarbone fractures (47 percent), and ankle fractures (38 percent). These figures were "strikingly similar" to the prescription rates for adults, said Joel Hudgins, the study's lead author.

But when it comes to adolescents, medical guidelines aren't as clear about how much to prescribe — "at least not on a national level," Hudgins explained, like they are for adults. And besides that, teens and young adults are at a higher risk for misusing opioids, CNN reported. All of this adds up to a dangerously high chance for opioid addiction at a young age.

Read more at CNN.