Opioid use disorder (OUD), a problematic pattern of opioid use involving harmful consequences, is a serious national crisis. OUD, like other substance use disorders, often originates with substance use in adolescence. In 2017, an estimated 214,000 (or 1 percent of) adolescents ages 12 to 17 were misusers of prescription opioids, and 2,000 (or less than 0.1 percent of) adolescents were heroin users.
A considerable body of research exists on effective programs and interventions for preventing, screening for, and treating adolescent OUD. Moreover, recent federal and state legislative and regulatory changes have prompted increased efforts to implement policies aimed at preventing OUD and increasing OUD treatment capacity.
Our partners in Franklin, Pickaway, and Warren Counties in Ohio identified adolescent opioid-related substance use as an urgent issue in need of evidence-based strategies. They requested up-to-date, objective, outcome-relevant information to guide local policymakers, communities, schools, medical providers, and families on strategies for preventing and treating adolescent OUD. In collaboration with our policy partners at the Addiction Policy Forum, we aim to address this gap between knowledge and practice.
This research is intended to help selected Ohio communities choose among the interventions identified as evidence based and to contribute to a policy road map for addressing adolescent OUD that meets each community’s circumstances, resources, and needs. We hope this information can help counties across the United States make decisions about how to prevent and treat adolescent OUD. This project was funded by the William T. Grant Foundation.