Originally published by 2 Minute Medicine® (view original article). Reused on AccessMedicine with permission.

1. In a cross-sectional study, rates of opioid-related deaths were observed to rise among youths in Ontario, Canada between 2013-2021, while the use of opioid agonist therapy declined.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

The incidence of opioid-related mortality has been increasing among youths in North America. Opioid agonist treatment (OAT) is an evidence-based method shown to reduce opioid-related deaths. Barriers to OAT, including stigma and poor accessibility, reduce the uptake of this treatment. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to assess the rates of OAT and opioid-related mortality in Ontario, Canada among two age groups: 15-24 and 25-44 between 2013 and 2021. Data were collected from the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network, Public Health Ontario, and Statistics Canada. Between 2013 and 2021, opioid-related deaths in the younger cohort increased 369.2%, from 2.6 to 12.2 per 100,000 population. OAT use decreased by 55.9%, from 3.4 to 1.5 per 1000 population. Among the older cohort, opioid-related deaths increased 371.8%, from 7.8 to 36.8 per 100 000, and OAT use increased 27.8%, from 7.9 to 10.1 per 1000 population. This study suggests that while opioid-related mortality is increasing for both youths and adults in Ontario, youths are simultaneously reducing their use of OAT. Further research can examine barriers to accessing OAT in younger populations. Clinicians can work together with Public Health Agencies to increase accessibility and utilization of OAT in this younger demographic, such as by engaging with schools or increasing the use of technology for outreach.

©2023 2 Minute Medicine, Inc. All rights reserved. No works may be reproduced without expressed written consent from 2 Minute Medicine, Inc. Inquire about licensing here. No article should be construed as medical advice and is not intended as such by the authors or by 2 Minute Medicine, Inc.