Opioids once hailed as the ultimate panacea for pain and certain disorders, have become the biggest health concern today. Abuse and misuse of these opioids have given rise to the opioid epidemic in the United States. According to a recent study, opioid use disorder (OUD) is a big problem among American adolescents and young adults, yet only 25 percent of them get the necessary medicines to treat their addiction.
The study, titled “Trends in Receipt of Buprenorphine and Naltrexone for Opioid Use Disorder Among Adolescents and Young Adults, 2001-2014,” revealed that the number of Americans, aged 13-25 years, detected with opioid misuse problems rose by almost six times between 2001 and 2014. The research, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in June 2017, also reported that the average annual rate of opioid abuse problems rose from 0.26 episodes to 1.51 episodes for every 100,000 people among adolescents and young adults.
Assessment of anti-addiction medicines among young opioid users
The researchers tried to examine the frequency at which American youth with OUD receive buprenorphine or naltrexone and the manner in which treatment pervasiveness has altered over time. For this, they evaluated the health insurance claims data of 9.7 million people from 2001 to 2014. Then they looked at details of 20,822 youth living with OUD. The findings indicated how only 5,600 of them had received medicines for their dependence problems.
The researchers found that most of them under observation had received buprenorphine, an opioid that helps lower cravings by affecting the same region in the brain that is affected by addictive opioid drugs, including heroin, morphine and codeine. Roughly, about 11 percent had received naltrexone, a medication used to treat alcohol and drug addiction. In addition, younger adolescents, females and colored (black and Hispanic) youth were not so inclined to get the medicines for OUD compared to older youth, males and white residents.
The results showed how within six months of diagnosis of opioid misuse problems, just 27 percent of these patients seeking treatment for OUD were recommended buprenorphine and naltrexone, the two most common medication to treat addiction. Elucidating the findings, lead author of the study Dr. Scott Hadland, a pediatrician and addiction specialist from Boston Medical Center, said, “Medications have been shown to treat withdrawal and cravings, and reduce relapse, and are an extremely effective component of treatment for opioid use disorder. Offering medications early in the life course of addiction – particularly to patients with severe addiction – is critical to prevent downstream harm from addiction.”
The study has its own set of limitations, considering that the researchers did not have enough details about the severity of addiction that may have been responsible for some patients not receiving medications. The researchers also looked at data obtained from people who had taken private health insurance which could translate into the possibility of consequences being different for young people who had taken benefits like Medicaid or who were not insured. The results highlighted the importance of the advice shared by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), instructing pediatricians to consider prescribing medicines for teens suffering from opioid addiction.
To get rid of the opioid scourge that has a major percentage of Americans in its grip, it is necessary for each patient to have access to a treatment program that uses these medicines. Brendan Saloner of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore wrote, “The cost of the medication can be a barrier, because even with private insurance the drugs can cost $20 to $50 a month or more. But it should always be offered.”
Ensuring recovery of American youth
Teenagers seek thrills by using addictive substances that increase the chance of dependence on various substances, including opioids. Overdosing on opioids or taking them without medical prescription may result in neurological alterations in the brain that may necessitate the use of medicines just like in the case of any other addiction involving tobacco, alcohol and others.
Sovereign Health understands the plight of a teenager suffering from addiction to illicit substances. Our Rancho San Diego facility makes available a host of necessary treatment procedures and behavioral therapies for its patients. For more information about drug rehab for teens, call our 24/7 helpline number. You may chat online, with our representatives, for expert advice about recovery from teen drug abuse in your vicinity.