The authors of a recent publication in JAMA Pediatrics ask, “What percentage of youths receive medications for opioid use disorder shortly after diagnosis, and are those who receive medications early after diagnosis more likely to remain in care compared with those who receive behavioral treatment only?” The results of their study are as follows:

Findings: In this multistate cohort of 4837 youths with opioid use disorder, 1 of 21 adolescents younger than 18 years and 1 of 4 young adults aged 18 to 22 years received medication for opioid use disorder within 3 months of diagnosis. Youths who received buprenorphine were 42% less likely to discontinue treatment, those who received naltrexone were 46% less likely to discontinue treatment, and those who received methadone were 68% less likely to discontinue treatment compared with youths who received behavioral treatment only.

Meaning: Pharmacotherapy, a critical evidence-based intervention to address opioid use disorder, may be underused in youths with this disorder; those who receive medications shortly after diagnosis may be more likely to remain in care than youths who receive behavioral health services only.

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