Trends in rates of opioid agonist treatment and opioid-related deaths for youths in Ontario, Canada, 2013-2021

While opioid-related deaths concentrate among middle-aged adults, recent data suggests an acceleration in opioid-related mortality among youths. Opioid agonist treatment (OAT) is a core response to this crisis as it is an evidence-based treatment shown to reduce opioid-related and all-cause mortality among individuals with opioid use disorder. Despite recommendation for its use, there are barriers to accessing OAT among youths, including: stigma, burden of witnessed dosing, and lack of availability of youth-oriented services and prescribers comfortable treating this population.

Given the rising burden of opioid-related mortality in younger demographics, and the known barriers to accessing OAT in this population, we sought to contrast rates of OAT and opioid-related mortality between youths aged 15 and 24 years and adults aged 25 to 44 years in Ontario, Canada.

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