A recent study done at Boston University Medical Center evaluated the use of medications to treat addiction in teens and young adults. Medications like naltrexone and buprenorphine are underused in treatment of young people with substance-use disorders. Just over a quarter of young people diagnosed with substance use disorders were given opioid replacement medication within six months. Additionally, males were more likely than females to receive such treatments as were African American and Hispanic patients when compared to Caucasian patients.
Of these findings, BMC addiction specialist Scott Hadlund said, “Our study highlights a critical gap in addiction treatment for teens and young adults. We need tangible strategies to expand access to medications that do not worsen the gender and racial disparities we observed.”
Treatments for addiction need to be accessible by the most vulnerable populations. Efforts to distribute these treatments may call for changes in prescriber laws and pharmaceutical practices. Additionally, we will need more pediatricians to be licensed to prescribe opioid maintenance drugs in the very near future.