A new study found that one in three young adults receive medication for opioid use disorder within 12 months of a non-fatal opioid overdose. The study, led by researchers at Boston Medical Center’s Grayken Center for Addiction, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), shows which medications — buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone — are being taken, and how long after the overdose they receive the treatment. Published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine, the results provide important new data that can help increase access and time to medication for opioid use disorder for young adults who survive an overdose, including in an emergency department setting.
Nonfatal opioid overdose is a significant predictor for recurrent nonfatal and fatal opioid overdoses. Young adults (under age 25) have been disproportionately affected by the opioid epidemic, as data indicates that drug overdose deaths nearly quadrupled nationally between 1999 and 2016 in young adults between 15 and 24 years old. Research shows that young adults have distinct developmental differences that predispose them to substance use disorders, which requires strategically designed interventions to engage and retain them in treatment.