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Addressing Stigma in Medication Treatment of Adolescents With Opioid Use Disorder

Bagley, Sarah, M.; Hadland, Scott, E.; Carney, Brittany, L.; Saitz, Richard

doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000348

In September 2016, the American Academic of Pediatrics released a policy statement that adolescents with opioid use disorder should be offered pharmacotherapy with buprenorphine/naloxone, methadone, or naltrexone. In our clinical practice, however, we have encountered the perception among patients, families, and clinicians alike that medications should be used as a last resort. That we should wait until things get worse is a discarded approach. As addiction specialists, it is imperative that we prevent and identify risky use and use disorders, then intervene early and offer timely, evidence-based treatment. We suggest that adolescents deserve special attention and that specific efforts should be made to reduce the stigma associated with treating adolescents with opioid use disorder with medications to optimize those efforts.

Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA (SMB, RS); Department of Pediatrics, Boston University Schoolf of Medicine, Boston, MA (SMB, SEH); Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA (SMB, SEH, BLC, RS); Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA (RS).

Send correspondence to Sarah M. Bagley, MD, Boston Medical Center, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, 2nd floor, Boston, MA 02118. E-mail:

Received 4 March, 2017

Accepted 30 March, 2017

Financial disclosure: S.M.B. received funding through the ASAM-Millennium Research Institute Fellowship Award, which is unrelated to this work.

© 2017 American Society of Addiction Medicine