For the growing number of teens addicted to opiates (i.e. heroin or prescription pain-relief drugs), short-term detoxification and/or psychosocial treatment programs are commonly recommended, despite high relapse rates and limited success. Researchers have found a more effective treatment method that targets the physiological aspects of opioid addiction, which may reduce the toll drug abuse takes on individuals, families, and communities.

A study appearing in the November 5 issue of JAMA shows that extended-treatment with buprenorphine-naloxone (suboxone) for opioid-addicted youth resulted in much less drug use, injecting and treatment dropout than short-term detoxification alone. The NIH-funded study, led by George Woody, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, was conducted at 6 sites in the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Clinical Trials Network.

"Effective medication should not be excluded or stopped simply because the patient is young and has been addicted to opioids for a short time - the high level of opioid use after the last dose of medication seen in both arms of this study resembled detoxification in opioid-dependents adults having much longer periods of addiction," said Dr. Woody. "Although we did not determine how long the medication should be continued, the study showed that it is a very useful addition to counseling and other psychosocial treatment services for outpatient treatment of opioid addicted youth. Clinicians should be in no hurry to stop this combination medication treatment."

Please read the JAMA press release or full study for more information.


PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #4 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) includes its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s top ten “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. In addition UPHS includes a primary-care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care, hospice, and nursing home; three multispecialty satellite facilities; as well as the Penn Medicine Rittenhouse campus, which offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient services in multiple specialties.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $6.7 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2016 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2016, Penn Medicine provided $393 million to benefit our community.

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