Medications underutilized when treating young people with opioid use disorder

Only one in four young adults and teens with opioid use disorder (OUD) are receiving potentially life-saving medications for addiction treatment, according to a new Boston Medical Center (BMC) study published online in JAMA Pediatrics.

Buprenorphine and naltrexone are medications used to treat OUD that help prevent relapse and overdose when used appropriately. In late 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended, for the first time, that providers offer medication treatment to adolescents with OUD.

Prior studies have shown that among all adults in treatment for opioids, one-third started using opioids before age 18, and two-thirds started before age 25. Unlike methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone can be offered in the primary care setting. However, few teens receive medication due, in part, to a widespread shortage of physicians who have received a waiver certification required to prescribe buprenorphine. And, as researchers note, of all of the physicians who are certified in the United States, only one-percent are pediatricians.

Full story of treating young people with opioid use disorder at drugfree.org

Addiction Experts Object to Price’s Remarks on Medication-Assisted Treatment

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s description of medication-assisted treatment for addiction as “substituting one opioid for another” is inaccurate, according to addiction experts who have asked Price to “set the record straight.”

A letter to Price signed by almost 700 researchers and practitioners notes there is a substantial body of research showing that methadone and buprenorphine, also known as medication-assisted treatment, are effective in treating opioid addiction. These medications, which are opioids, have been the standard of care for addiction treatment for years, they wrote.

Full story of Tom Price’s description of medication-assisted treatment at drugfree.org

Mindfulness May Help Patients Reduce Suboxone Dose, Pilot Program Suggests

The practice of mindfulness, or paying attention “on purpose” to the present moment without judgment, may be helpful for people trying to reduce their dose of the opioid medication buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone), according to Zev Schuman-Olivier, MD, Medical Director for Addictions and Executive Director for the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion at the Cambridge Health Alliance.

Dr. Schuman-Olivier is co-leading a mindfulness-based group for individuals prescribed Suboxone to treat their opioid use disorder, who want to reduce the amount of medication they take, come off of it completely, or come to a place of acceptance with their medications. Of the first five people who participated in the program, three have reduced their buprenorphine dose, and two have been able to stop taking it completely with no relapse for six months with the help of another non-dependence forming addiction medication, naltrexone.

Full story of mindfulness and patients reducing opioid use at drugfree.org

Study Shows Promising Results for Injectable Treatment for Opioid Dependence

A new injectable treatment for opioid addiction showed promise in a late-stage study, according to The Wall Street Journal. The study involved weekly and monthly injections of buprenorphine for the treatment of moderate to severe opioid use disorder.

Buprenorphine is currently available as a tablet and as film that dissolves in the mouth. According to Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, which makes the new treatment, the study included 428 patients. It showed the injections were superior to the tablet treatment.

Full story of injectable treatment for opioid dependence at drugfree.org

Many Doctors Who Prescribe Buprenorphine Could Be Treating More Patients: Study

Many doctors who are allowed to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction are treating many fewer patients than they could be, a new study finds.

More than 20 percent of doctors who have government waivers to prescribe buprenorphine treated three or fewer patients, and fewer than 10 percent treated more than 75 patients, NPR reports.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was conducted when doctors were allowed to treat up to 30 patients at a time for the first year, and then up to 100 patients after that.

Full story of doctors prescribing buprenorphine and opioid addiction at drugfree.org