Few Adolescent-serving Addiction Treatment Centers in the US Offer Medication for Opioid Use Disorder

This study used data from the 2017 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services to report on medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) availability for adolescents (interpreted to mean <18 years of age), and examined whether program characteristics are associated with medication availability.

  • 3537 of 13,585 treatment facilities (26%) offered adolescent-serving programs.
  • Adolescent programs were less likely to offer MOUD compared with adult programs (odds ratio [OR], 0.53). MOUD was offered in 23% of adolescent programs versus 36% of adult programs.
  • Non-profit status, hospital affiliation, accepting private insurance, accreditation, location in the Northeast, and offering inpatient services were all associated with greater likelihood of offering MOUD in adolescent-serving facilities.

Comments: This study reinforces previous findings that adolescents are less likely to receive MOUD than adults, despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Hospital-affiliated treatment facilities had better alignment with national guidelines than commercial programs. As a group, youth are underserved, even though, as with any disorder, early treatment improves outcomes. For substance use disorders, treatment during youth has the potential to save lives and reduce the enormous societal expenditures on treating addiction and its complications in adulthood.

Sharon Levy, MD

Reference: Alinsky RH, Hadland SE, Matson PA, et al. Adolescent-serving addiction treatment facilities in the United States and the availability of medications for opioid use disorder. J Adolesc Health. 2020;67(4):542-549.

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