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Lisa Black


An updated policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that timely access to prevention and treatment services remain challenging for many children, adolescents, young adults, and families affected by substance use.

In “Improving Substance Use Prevention, Assessment, and Treatment Financing to Enhance Equity and Improve Outcomes Among Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults” (published online June 27), the AAP recognizes the scope and urgency of this problem and has developed this statement for consideration by Congress, federal and state policy makers, and public and private payers. This policy statement updates the 2001 statement “Improving Substance Abuse Prevention, Assessment, and Treatment Financing for Children and Adolescents” and provides recommendations for financing substance use prevention, assessment, and treatment for children, adolescents, and young adults. According to 2019 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 8% of adolescents and young adults who needed treatment for substance use received it, the statement notes.

“As a pediatrician and addiction medicine specialist, I regularly work with patients and families who are faced with high out-of-pocket costs and few options as they attempt to link with prevention services or navigate the complex substance use treatment system,” says lead author Deepa Camenga, MD, MHS, FAAP. “The addiction and overdose crises continue to impact all communities and age groups. Improving coverage and payment for pediatric-specific prevention and treatment services is critical for health equity and the health of all children.”

Racial/ethnic disparities in treatment access are linked to social, economic, and criminal justice inequities as well as stigma toward substance use within the health care system. Additional training and workforce development around substance use and health equity is necessary if pediatric clinicians are to meet the need for these services in their practice settings. It is also essential to improve coverage and payment for substance use prevention, assessment, and treatment services for the pediatric population. Alternative payment models, such value-based payment models, may offer a cost-effective approach to financing substance use services in the future, the statement says.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds

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