Adolescent health brief| Volume 60, ISSUE 6, P747-750, June 2017

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Medication-Assisted Treatment for Adolescents in Specialty Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder



      The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended that pediatricians consider medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for adolescents with severe opioid use disorders. Little is known about adolescents' current use of MAT.


      We use data on episodes of specialty treatment for heroin or opioid use (n = 139,092) from a database of publicly funded treatment programs in the U.S. We compare the proportions of adolescents and adults who received MAT, first using unadjusted comparison of proportions, then using logistic regression to adjust for potential confounders.


      Only 2.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4%–3.7%) of adolescents in treatment for heroin received MAT, as compared to 26.3% (95% CI, 26.0%–26.6%) of adults. Only .4% (95% CI, .2%–.7%) of adolescents in treatment for prescription opioids received MAT, as compared to 12.0% (95% CI, 11.7%–12.2%) of adults. Regression-adjusted results were qualitatively similar.


      Regulatory changes and expansions of Medicaid/CHIP coverage for MAT may be needed to improve MAT access.


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