B.C. agency releases first guidelines on treating youth with opioid-use disorder

published on June 13, 2018 by Andrea Woo in The Globe and Mail

The agency that oversees treatment of substance use and addiction in British Columbia has released new guidelines for treating young people with opioid-use disorder, emphasizing a range of pharmaceutical and counselling options and cautioning against traditional approaches such as detox alone.

The comprehensive document released on Wednesday is the first of its kind to help physicians and the public navigate addiction treatment specifically for young people, and includes modern therapies for a group traditionally limited to short-term detoxification, a process that rids the body of drugs, and counselling.

The British Columbia Centre on Substance Use developed the guidelines with a provincial committee of health partners and representatives of community and family groups. They supplement broader provincial guidelines on treating opioid addiction released last summer.

“This document will help guide physicians, but can also be used for self-advocacy, for patients and for loved ones of patients,” said Sharon Vipler, a general practitioner specializing in addiction medicine with Providence Health Care and the Fraser Health Authority and co-chair of the development committee.

“I think it will build the confidence of the general treatment community around treating youth with opiate-use disorder.”

People between the ages of 10 and 24 account for one-fifth of all overdose deaths from illicit opioids in B.C., but to date there has been a dearth of guidelines based on clinical studies involving young people, and youth-focused treatment resources.

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