Treating Teenagers with Opioid Addictions

Author(s): Lydia L. Kim, Digital Content Editor

Opioid use disorder (OUD), especially among the young, is a growing crisis. Statistics from 2017 indicate that every day approximately 900 adolescents began misusing opioids; some began using heroin and other illegal opioids as well.

In an effort to determine if opioid treatment medications (which are recommended for adults) may benefit teens with opioid use disorder (OUD), researchers at Yale University are examining their effects on this patient population.

Between 1973 and 2018, 14 reports identified one of three medications for treating adolescent OUD: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. These studies have shown a successful increase in the number of teens who decreased their use of opioids over time when using these medications. However, only 2% to 5% of adolescent patients receive opioid treatment medications.

Deepa Camenga, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Yale and lead researcher of the current study, summarizes her research: “Adolescents with severe opioid use may benefit from a medication as part of a larger comprehensive treatment plan…Parents should try to consult with a healthcare provider, and if they are able, an addiction psychiatry or addiction medicine specialist, to see if medications may benefit their child.”

Camenga emphasizes the need to improve teen access to treatment and the capacity in which providers may care for this sensitive population.

Read more about this study here.

References

Yale News: https://news.yale.edu/2019/09/11/opioid-treatment-teens-medications-can-help

Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs: https://www.jsad.com/doi/full/10.15288/jsad.2019.80.393

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