Few Young People Treated for Opioid Addiction Get Medication-Assisted Treatment

counselor counseling teen

Only 27 percent of youths treated for opioid addiction receive buprenorphine or naltrexone, known as medication-assisted treatment, a new study finds.

“These medications are considered the evidence-based standard of care for opioid addiction by the American Academy of Pediatrics,” said lead researcher Dr. Scott Hadland of Boston University School of Medicine.

Buprenorphine (sold as Suboxone) has been shown to reduce cravings, while naltrexone (sold as Revia and Vivitrol) blocks the high from opioids, HealthDay reports.

The rate of opioid addiction among teens and young adults shot up almost sixfold between 2001 and 2014, the researchers note in JAMA Pediatrics.

Hadland said one reason so few young people receive medication-assisted treatment is that too few pediatricians and family doctors are trained in how to treat opioid addiction. “In light of the national opioid crisis, it’s really now more important than ever to ensure that providers are receiving the training,” he said.

Download the Medication-Assisted Treatment eBook

For a complete and comprehensive overview of medication-assisted treatment, including how to find the right facility or treatment provider for your child, download our full eBook.

    User Picture

    Richard Esterly

    June 26, 2017 at 2:40 PM

    Like Howard, I believe that this article is very irresponsible. The second paragraph in essence states that ever youth, regardless of dependence severity, social and familial support, and length of opiate dependence should be given another drug (suboxone). This is especially tragic when the majority of youth with a dependency problem started with a prescription by a physician… without the proper training and without giving the proper warning to the youth or family members .

    User Picture

    Bill Paxton Jr.

    June 26, 2017 at 8:16 AM


    I can sympathize with your view, but many young people who lose their lives to opioid OD may still be alive if they began MAT services at the right time.

    People who don’t understand methadone, suboxone, or Vivitrol are undereducated. Suboxone works well and Vivitrol is non-habit forming.

    Vivitrol is different than what you are thinking of when you speak of “clinics.” Read up on Vivitrol and see if you have the same opinion.

    User Picture


    June 22, 2017 at 1:11 PM

    I wonder how they define young people? There is a natural resistance to using MAT for the very young. Little is more heartbreaking than when I have a 20 year old tell me someone at a clinic has convinced him there is no hope but to be hooked on methadone or suboxone for the rest of their life. The people who run these clinics should be thrown in prison for doing this to teens. Especially the teens who have never used opiates before they went to the clinics.

Leave a Comment

Please leave a comment below to contribute to the discussion. If you have a specific question, please contact a Parent Specialist, who will provide you with one-on-one help.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *