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Teens Treatment for Opioid Addiction

April 13, 2017

New research from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore shows a small fraction of adolescents with an opioid addiction will receive medications that can help them quit. Kenneth Feder and his colleagues looked at data on 139,092 patients receiving treatment at publicly funded programs in the United States in 2013. Approximately 26 percent of adult heroin addicts received medication-assisted treatment, while only 2 percent of adolescents. As for patients addicted to other opiates, 12 percent of adults received medication, compared to less than 1 percent of adolescents.


"There's more that needs to be done across the board to facilitate access to these treatments when they're medically necessary. The best validated treatment for somebody struggling with an opiate addiction is treatment that includes some sort of medication assistance," Feder told Reuters Health by telephone.


Methadone and Suboxone are usually the medications that are prescribed to reduce the craving for opiates and ease withdrawal symptoms. Teenage patients seeking medication-assisted treatment face a number of challenges. Methadone is now only offered at specific substance abuse treatment centers. These centers require a waiver to treat anyone under the age of 18. The Medicaid rules state that an adolescent must have failed treatment twice in order to prescribe Methadone. Doctors are able to prescribe Suboxone to patients 16 years of age and older, but only if they have a waiver.


Dr. Lisa Marsch of Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Lebanon, New Hampshire states that the difference in treatment rates is "really striking and very concerning." Dr. Marsch went on to say, "we are doing a real disservice based on the science and the data. We want a chance to stop this problem early."


Article from FoxNews.com via Reuters March 13, 2017

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