Bill allowing youth over 16 to be treated for opioid addiction without prior parental consent heads to governor’s desk

A bill that would allow youths over 16 to be treated for opioid addiction without parental consent has landed on the governor’s desk for signature.

Assemblymember Matt Haney’s  legislation allows physicians to enroll youth over the age of 16 in buprenorphine treatment without prior parental consent.

AB 816 passed by the California State Senate with 29 votes and the Assembly with a final vote of 64. It now heads to the governor where it will await his signature.

Overdose deaths among minors have doubled in California in the last 2 years. Opioid overdoses now account for one out of every five deaths of minors in California. Enrolling opioid addicted youth in medically proven treatments, as early as possible, is one of the best tools physicians have to save the lives of these young people.

“Most young people will thankfully have support from their parents when seeking this treatment,” said Haney. “But some teenagers tragically will have no choice but to look for help on their own. Often because they’re homeless, have parents who themselves are addicted or absent, or have legitimate fears that telling their parents will lead to violence or being kicked out of their home. Turning away these youth seeking recovery is reckless, wrong and potentially deadly.”

Buprenorphine is the only FDA approved treatment for youths and is the safest and most effective treatment available. Due to buprenorphine’s natural chemical ceiling it makes it difficult to abuse the drug and impossible to overdose on. The most common brand of buprenorphine, called Suboxone, includes the well-known opioid antagonist naloxone (same as in Narcan) as an ingredient. Naloxone has the dual effect of treating withdrawal symptoms as well as blocking further opioid use.

AB 816 is sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics California Chapter.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics, California is the proud sponsor of AB 816,” said Yasuko Fukuda, MD FAAP Chair, AAP California. “When it comes to opioid addiction — opioid use disorder — we have this safe and effective medication, buprenorphine, approved for age 16 and up. Pediatricians urge California policymakers to act now to ensure that no eligible teen is ever denied this potentially life-saving treatment.”