New Review on “Youth and the Opioid Epidemic”

In a “State-of-the-Art Review Article” being published in the February 2019 issue of Pediatrics, Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, notes shortfalls in the current treatment system’s ability to address youth needs and offers suggestions that include emphasis on prevention and training. Dr. Levy is Program Director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Pediatric Addiction Medication Fellowship.


The current epidemic of opioid addiction has arguably been the most recalcitrant in the nation’s history and the first to involve substantial numbers of adolescents. The country has embarked on a public health response, including increasing access to addiction treatment. However, the treatment infrastructure, which was initially created in the 1970s, is ill equipped for meeting the needs of adolescents and young adults, who are often cared for in pediatric primary care. In this article, I review the development of the current treatment system, examine shortfalls in regard to youth-specific needs, and propose suggestions for addressing the current crisis while simultaneously preparing to address future epidemics of addiction by enabling pediatricians to better manage substance use disorders in primary care.

— Levy, S. Youth and the Opioid Epidemic. Pediatrics. 2019; 143(2): e20182752