06 Jan Very Few Youth Receive Recommended Treatment After Opioid Overdose
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rachel H. Alinsky, MD, MPH
Adolescent Medicine and Addiction Medicine Fellow
Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: We know that over 4,000 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15-24 are dying from an opioid overdose every year. Nonfatal opioid overdose has been identified as a potential touchpoint with the healthcare system when individuals can be drawn into treatment, yet very little is known about health care use following opioid overdose in youth. We were interested in figuring out the extent to which adolescents and young adults are receiving evidence-based treatment after an opioid overdose.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The main finding from our study is that less than 1 in 50 adolescents and young adults who had an opioid overdose received the standard of care medication treatment that is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. We also see that youth with opioid overdose have a high risk of recurrent overdose, as over 8% of youth with heroin overdose experience another overdose within three months – highlighting the need to get youth into effective treatment.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: It is unacceptable that so few youths are receiving the recommended treatment after opioid overdose. In pediatrics, we would not accept it if only 1 in 50 youth with asthma got the standard treatment when they came into the emergency department, or if 1 in 50 youth with diabetes got the standard treatment if they were hospitalized with diabetic ketoacidosis. Pediatricians just wouldn’t find that treatment gap acceptable. Yet this is where are now with the treatment our system is able to provide to youth who have an opioid overdose – and we need to do better for them.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We need to find effective interventions that are able to link adolescents and young adults directly into treatment after an opioid overdose. We also need to evaluate what barriers exist to accessing care at the time of overdose (such as insurance restrictions, lack of community providers or treatment centers, stigma), and find strategies to mitigate these barriers.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: In order to ensure that adolescents and young adults receive the treatment they need after an opioid overdose, many changes to the system need to happen – such as targeted federal funding for research and treatment for youth, decreasing insurance barriers, and increasing the availability of youth-serving physicians and addiction treatment centers.
I have no disclosures
Alinsky RH, Zima BT, Rodean J, et al. Receipt of Addiction Treatment After Opioid Overdose Among Medicaid-Enrolled Adolescents and Young Adults. JAMA Pediatr. Published online January 06, 2020. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.5183
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