At any one time, Deepa R. Camenga, M.D., FAAP, is treating about 30 patients with
opioid use disorder who range in age from 16-25. At the core of treatment is buprenorphine.
“Buprenorphine is an excellent medication to stabilize patients and help them with
their recovery, and you’ll see a change in their clinical picture really quite quickly.
It’s kind of amazing,” said Dr. Camenga, a member of the AAP Committee on Substance
Use and Prevention.
Dr. Camenga will discuss a range of treatment options, focusing on buprenorphine’s
effectiveness, during a session titled “Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in Adolescents
(F3053)” from 9:30-10:15 a.m. Monday, Nov. 5, in room W311EF of the convention center.
She also will review AAP policy and discuss options to complete an eight-hour training
program required to apply for a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine.
About 115 Americans die every day from opioid overdose, according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, drug overdose death rates among 15- to
24-year-olds increased 28% from 2015-’16.
“Pediatricians are very uniquely poised to help some of the most vulnerable people
affected by this epidemic, meaning adolescents and their families, because much more
of our medical community is trained to deal with adults but very few are trained and
able to work with younger people,” said Dr. Camenga, assistant professor of emergency
medicine and pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.
While working with young people affected by the opioid epidemic, Dr. Camenga found
few resources in her community for adolescents. So, she took a training program to
prescribe buprenorphine and started an outpatient treatment program for adolescents
and young adults with substance use disorders.
“I was lucky enough to be around many colleagues who prescribed to adults who reassured
me that it is something I could do,” she said.
Dr. Camenga plans to reassure pediatricians that providing medication-assisted treatment
is something they can — and should — do as well.
“We are a wonderful resource in our communities where we practice,” Dr. Camenga said,
“and we have a role in fighting this epidemic.”