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03-20 Policies and rules prevent teens dependent on drugs from taking MAT, says study

Policies and rules prevent teens dependent on drugs from taking MAT, says study

Opioid addiction has affected the future of millions of people in the United States. Many avail the necessary treatment recommended to get rid of their dependence but there are others who cannot receive the required treatment because of policies and guidelines.

A group of researchers in a recent study, titled “Medication-Assisted Treatment for Adolescents in Specialty Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder,” stressed on how only a small percentage of teenagers dependents on opioids receive medication-based treatments that can help them quit addiction.

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in February 2017, was conducted to understand the efficacy of guideline issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) who had released a new policy statement titled “Medication-Assisted Treatment of Adolescents with Opioid Use Disorders” in 2016.

To reverse the trend of growing opioid use disorders among young people the guidelines, published in the journal Pediatrics in August 2016, suggested that pediatricians should consider giving medication-assisted interventions (MAT) to teenagers and young adults suffering from opioid use disorders or referring them to clinicians who can aid in similar treatment methods.

The study is based on the findings of previous researches, indicating how medications like methadone or suboxone are advised by doctors to lessen the cravings for painkillers. Clinicians also recommend these to manage the uneasiness during withdrawal.

American teenagers bereft of much-needed addiction treatment

The researchers looked at the details of 139,092 patients who had been receiving treatment at publicly funded programs in the U.S. in 2013. They found that as opposed to 26 percent adults who were dependent on heroin and had received MAT, only 2 percent teenagers had availed the same. In addition to this, they also found that among patients hooked to opioids, 12 percent of the adult patients had received MAT compared to less than 1 percent teenagers dependent on opioids.

Elaborating the observations, co-author of the study, Kenneth A. Feder said, “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.”

Not all patients with opioid addiction have access to MAT because the drug methadone is offered only at specified substance abuse treatment centers, and these centers need a special permission to treat patients under 18 years. Also, as per rules laid down under the Medicaid program, teenagers dependent on opioids must have failed treatment two times before being given prescription methadone.

As not all of these treatments are necessarily covered by the state’s Medicaid program, Feder stressed that they must be included in the state’s program since they are imperative for recovery from addiction. The findings of the study indicated a huge gap between the number of adolescents and adults treated with MAT.

Recovery road map

Addiction to prescription medications or their cheap and easily available versions, including heroin, does not spell doom on teenagers alone, it spells trouble for their parents as well. So treatment should be made available as early as possible. The Rancho San Diego facility of Sovereign Health provides a host of behavioral health treatment services to teenagers of ages 12 through 17. The psychologists also aid in the identification and treatment of causes that may have fueled dependence on prescription opioids at such a young age.

Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-615-7266 or chat online for expert advice about prescription drug rehab for adolescents or more information on teen rehab centers. The experts involved do not restrict themselves to providing only treatment; they instill in their patients reasons to look forward to their lives while also dreaming of a better future bereft of any form of dependence on illicit substances.

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