SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A bill that will allow teenagers to access opioid addiction treatment without consent from a parent is heading to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.

The new legislation permits physicians to enroll youth over the age of 16 in buprenorphine treatment without prior parental consent. AB 816 passed out the California State Senate with 29 votes, and the Assembly with a vote of 64 in support. It now heads to the governor where it will await his signature.

Opioid overdoses now account for 1 out of every 5 deaths of minors in California, according to State Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco). A deadly fentanyl epidemic caused overdose deaths among minors to double.

“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.”

Enrolling addicted youth in medically proven treatments, as early as possible, is one of the best tools physicians have to save the lives, supporters of the bill said.

AB 816 is sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics California Chapter. “When it comes to opioid addiction — opioid use disorder — we have this safe and effective medication, buprenorphine, approved for age 16 and up,” said Yasuko Fukuda, MD FAAP Chair, AAP California. 

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. Naloxone has the dual effect of treating withdrawal symptoms as well as blocking further opioid use.