Opioid Addiction in Adolescents: A Background and Policy Brief

Adam Wenner, MSN, RN, CPNP-AC; Kristin Hittle Gigli, MSN, RN, CPNP-AC, CCRN


J Pediatr Health Care. 2016;30(6):606-609. 

In This Article


In 2014, nearly half a million adolescents 12 to 17 years of age in the United States reported using nonmedical opioid pain relievers, and 168,000 adolescents reported having a documented opioid addiction (American Society of Addiction Medicine [ASAM], 2016). As the number of opioid exposures increases, the need for abuse and addiction treatment also rises. Unfortunately, there are a number of barriers to the treatment and management of opioid addiction in the adolescent population. These barriers range from provider knowledge deficits to limitations in state and federal regulations and legislation governing opioids. The purpose of this article is to examine the increasing prevalence of opioid use and abuse among adolescents and review the current state of public policy on opioid abuse and treatment.