New research by Penn State College of Medicine will shed more light on opioid abuse risk factors amongst teens, prevention, and solutions. The $1.8-million project is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The Commonwealth is no stranger to the opioid abuse crisis.
“Pennsylvania is actually one of the hardest hit states in the United States, but again, most of what we know is about adults, so one of the goals of our study will be to see is Pennsylvania one of the hardest hit states in adolescent opioid abuse disorder as well,” said Dr. Douglas Leslie, a professor of public health sciences.
Over the course of three years, Leslie and other researchers will look at trends amongst teens, not only in Pennsylvania but across the country.
“There’s counseling, there are medications that are used to treat opioid use disorder, but we really don’t know what mix of services kids are getting, and then, are there associations between certain patterns of care with reduced risk of relapse,” said Leslie.
Stopping drug abuse at a young age is something Leslie says is key to fighting this crisis.
“Ninety percent of people with a substance use problem actually started using the substance when they were under 18 years old,” Leslie said.
The study will look at data from a private health insurance database, states’ Medicaid programs, as well as population-based surveys. Leslie says the results could affect certain policies down the road.
Researchers are also looking at links between family members. They’ll be able to see the type of medication that a parent uses and find out if there’s an increased risk of opioid abuse in their kids.