Improving Care in Teens With Opioid Use Disorder


Within the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic, there’s a inhabitants that’s largely being ignored. In response to a big cohort research, solely a small proportion of teenagers obtain correct aftercare following near-fatal overdoses. Alinsky and colleagues1 examined knowledge from greater than 4 million Medicaid enrollees (N = 4,039,216) and located that only one in 54 youths aged 13 to 22 years obtained evidence-based pharmacotherapy after an overdose. Sadly, it seems that correct care on this affected person inhabitants is given in only a few circumstances (Table 1A and Table 1B).

Psychiatric OccasionsTM invited lead writer Rachel H. Alinsky, MD, MPH, to share insights from the research. Alinsky is an adolescent medication and habit medication fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

PSYCHIATRIC TIMESTM ( PT): Your analysis highlights the necessity for high quality therapy, particularly for youthful sufferers. What insights are you able to present about interventions and obstacles to therapy?

RACHEL H. ALINSKY, MD, MPH: We have to discover efficient interventions that may hyperlink adolescents and younger adults immediately into therapy after an opioid overdose. We additionally want to judge the limitations to accessing care on the time of overdose (similar to insurance coverage restrictions, lack of group suppliers or therapy facilities, and stigma), and discover methods to mitigate these limitations. System-level modifications are vital, similar to focusing on federal funding for analysis and therapy for youth, reducing insurance coverage limitations, and rising the supply of youth-serving physicians and habit therapy facilities.

PT: Within the research, you and your colleagues famous, “Nonfatal opioid overdose could also be a essential contact level when youths who’ve by no means obtained a analysis of opioid use dysfunction could be engaged in therapy.” Is that as a result of these youths have hit all-time low?

ALINSKY: Within the habit therapy area, we don’t abide by that outdated adage—that folks need to hit all-time low earlier than they’re able to get therapy. That’s considerably of a delusion. What we are attempting to emphasise in our article is that overdose is a very essential time after we can draw somebody into therapy as a result of they’re presenting into the medical setting, seeing docs, and now we have this chance to work together with them and supply them therapy. Coming into the emergency division with an overdose could be the solely time this particular person is sitting face-to-face with a health care provider, and we need to capitalize on this chance to supply the very best care we will to the affected person.

After all, that doesn’t imply they didn’t need therapy a month in the past or every week in the past—they very properly might need wished therapy however didn’t know how one can entry it in our very difficult-to-navigate habit therapy system. So when the affected person is bodily with us after an overdose, now we have the prospect to assist them achieve entry to lifesaving therapy.

PT: What are the important thing takeaway factors from the research?

ALINSKY: Previous to this research, we knew that teenagers and younger adults have been about one-tenth as possible as adults to obtain therapy for opioid use dysfunction basically.2 And whereas we knew that greater than 4000 adolescents and younger adults between the ages of 15 and 24 die from an opioid overdose every year,3 little or no was recognized about well being care use following nonfatal opioid overdose in youth. We have been curious about determining the extent to which adolescents and younger adults are receiving evidence-based therapy after a nonfatal opioid overdose.

We discovered that fewer than 1 in 50 adolescents and younger adults who had an opioid overdose obtained the standard-of-care remedy therapy that’s beneficial by the American Academy of Pediatrics.4 We additionally discovered that youths with opioid overdose have a high risk of recurrent overdose; greater than 8% of youths with heroin overdose expertise one other overdose inside 3 months.1

When an adolescent or younger grownup goes to the hospital with an emergency, you anticipate them to get the therapy they want. However right here we see that lower than 2% are getting that therapy, which might not be acceptable for another medical situation. In pediatrics, it might be unacceptable if only one in 50 youths with bronchial asthma [received] the usual therapy after they got here into the emergency division, or if 1 in 50 youths with diabetes [received] the usual therapy after they have been hospitalized with diabetic ketoacidosis. Pediatricians wouldn’t discover that therapy hole acceptable. But that is the place we at the moment are with the therapy for teenagers who’ve an opioid overdose—and we have to do higher for them.

Moreover, with such excessive charges of recurrent overdose, it’s much more vital to get these youths into efficient therapy as quickly as doable, so we will attempt to stop one other overdose.

Lastly, prescribing practices needs to be carefully monitored in younger folks; they’re a critically uncared for affected person inhabitants in terms of habit monitoring. As verified in an earlier research of two,752,612 adolescents: “Protected opioid prescribing practices are essential to mitigate the chance of prescription opioid overdose in adolescents and younger adults.”5

PT: What are the important thing points in recognizing opioid use dysfunction in youth?

ALINSKY: The analysis of opioid use dysfunction is easy and relies on what number of standards a person meets from a set of 11 standards outlined in DSM-5. Within the case of youths who’re presenting with opioid overdose, there’s a likelihood that clinicians might view this as a standalone incident, and never acknowledge it as a manifestation of an adolescent’s underlying opioid use dysfunction. Thus, clinicians needs to be eager about, and evaluating for, opioid use dysfunction in any youths that current with an overdose. Clinicians ought to probe for points similar to taking the opioid in bigger quantities than meant, unsuccessful efforts to chop down use, cravings, recurrent use regardless of failure to meet obligations in school or residence, or recurrent use in bodily hazardous conditions.

By way of therapy, psychiatrists and different suppliers ought to supply remedy for opioid use dysfunction as first-line therapy, per suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics. These drugs embrace buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. Pharmacological interventions could be mixed with behavioral well being companies similar to remedy or counseling. The supplier might want to decide the extent of care that may greatest assist the affected person of their present stage of therapy—inpatient hospitalization, residential therapy, intensive outpatient, or outpatient therapy.

We all know that remedy is efficient and lifesaving for opioid use dysfunction; giant research in adults have discovered that remedy cuts the chance of dying in half.6,7 We additionally know that youths who’re on remedy keep in therapy longer.8 As a result of so few youths truly ever obtain this efficient habit therapy, an overdose could be a really perfect alternative to hyperlink somebody into care who has not been in a position to entry it beforehand.

PT: How can clinicians advise their sufferers and households on discovering probably the most acceptable care?

ALINSKY: Sufferers and their mother and father can advocate for therapy by asking their docs about therapy when they’re within the emergency division with an overdose. Some emergency departments have applications the place sufferers can instantly begin on remedy therapy; the applications can then hyperlink them to a supplier locally. These applications have been proven to be extraordinarily efficient, with a lot larger charges of people getting into and staying in therapy than if somebody is just handed a cellphone quantity to name to arrange therapy.9 If that kind of linkage shouldn’t be obtainable, households ought to ask to be referred so their teen or younger grownup can obtain therapy of their group as quickly as doable.

Clinicians or sufferers and households who need to discover obtainable therapy sources inside their group can use the therapy locator supplied by the Substance Abuse and Psychological Well being Companies Administration ( Right here you possibly can enter your zip code and discover all of the obtainable habit therapy facilities, sorting by companies supplied. It’s also doable to particularly search for buprenorphine prescribers or methadone applications from that internet web page.


1. Alinsky RH, Zima BT, Rodean J, et al. Receipt of addiction treatment after opioid overdose among Medicaid-enrolled adolescents and young adults. JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(3):e195183.

2. Chua KP, Brummett CM, Conti RM, Bohnert A. Association of opioid prescribing patterns with prescription opioid overdose in adolescents and young adults. JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(2):141-148.

3. Overdose dying charges. Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse. Up to date March 10, 2020. Accessed November 30, 2020, 2020.

4. Committee on Substance Use and Prevention. Treatment-assisted therapy of adolescents with opioid use issues. Pediatrics. 2016;138(3):e20161893.

5. Feder KA, Krawczyk N, Saloner B. Treatment-assisted therapy for adolescents in specialty therapy for opioid use dysfunction. J Adolesc Well being. 2017;60(6):747-750.

6. Larochelle MR, Bernson D, Land T, et al. Treatment for opioid use dysfunction after nonfatal opioid overdose and affiliation with mortality: a cohort research. Ann Intern Med. 2018;169(3):137-145.

7. Medicines for Opioid Use Dysfunction Save Lives. The Nationwide Academies Press. Accessed November 30, 2020.

8. Hadland SE, Bagley SM, Rodean J, et al. Receipt of well timed habit therapy and affiliation of early remedy therapy with retention in care amongst youths with opioid use dysfunction. JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(11):1029-1037.

9. D’Onofrio G, O’Connor PG, Pantalon MV, et al. Emergency department-initiated buprenorphine/naloxone therapy for opioid dependence: a randomized medical trial. JAMA. 2015;313(16):1636-1644.❒


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