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Marshall BD, Green TC, Yedinak JL, Hadland SE. 
“Harm reduction for young people who use prescription opioids extra-medically: Obstacles and opportunities”. 
Int J Drug Policy. 2016 Feb 27.
Extra-medical prescription opioid (EMPO) use - intentional use without a prescription or outside of prescribed parameters - is a public health crisis in the United States and around the world. Epidemiological evidence suggests that the prevalence of EMPO use and adverse sequelae, including opioid overdose and hepatitis C infection, are elevated among people aged 18-25. Despite these preventable health risks, many harm reduction interventions are underutilized by, or inaccessible to, EMPO-using youth. In this commentary, we describe key harm reduction strategies for young people who use prescription opioids. We examine individual, social, and policy-level barriers to the implementation of evidence-based approaches that address EMPO use and related harms among young people. We highlight the need for expanded services and new interventions to engage this diverse and heterogeneous at-risk population. A combination of medical, social, and structural harm reduction interventions are recommended. Furthermore, research to inform strategies that mitigate particularly high-risk practices (e.g., polysubstance use) is warranted. Finally, we discuss how the meaningful involvement of youth in the implementation of harm reduction strategies is a critical component of the public health response to the prescription opioid epidemic.
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