Harvard Mental Health Letter

In brief: Improving outcomes for opioid-addicted youth

In brief

Improving outcomes for opioid-addicted youth

Young people who are addicted to opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin account for a significant proportion of patients undergoing treatment for dependency. In 2006, for example, 10% of patients admitted to hospitals or clinics for the treatment of opioids other than heroin were younger than 20, while 31% were between 20 and 24.

The usual treatment offered to young people with opioid addiction is a combination of counseling and detoxification using a tapering drug schedule to ease the withdrawal process. In November 2008, researchers reported the results of a clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which found that more extensive treatment might be more effective than the traditional approach.

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