Young opioid OD survivors not getting follow-up care they need, study finds

A fraction of adolescents and young adults who survive opioid overdoses receive timely addiction treatment to prevent future opioid abuse, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics found.

"If patients with overdoses don't get linked right there in the emergency department to the appropriate follow-up care that could help them avoid a recurrence, they or their families should ask for assistance in making it happen," said Rachel Alinsky, MD, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine fellow at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and lead researcher of the study. "We have treatment programs that work effectively and save lives, but that doesn't matter if patients don't get into them."

Researchers used the 2009-2015 Truven–IBM Watson Health MarketScan Medicaid claims database and reviewed record for a little over 4 million people, ages 13 to 22 years.

They identified 3,791 cases of nonfatal opioid overdose, of which 26.4 percent experienced a heroin overdose. The median age was 18 years.

Of the total number of nonfatal opioid overdose cases, 3,606 youths were enrolled in Medicaid for at least 30 days after the incident. But only about 30 percent of this group received addiction treatment within 30 days of the overdose — 29.3 percent received behavioral health services only, and 1.9 received pharmacotherapy.

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