Although the use of opioids has declined in recent years, substance abuse and addiction remains a persistent problem. Every day, 128 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids, according to 2018 data. While nearly 21 million Americans have at least one type of addiction, only about 10 percent of them receive treatment.
Addiction and substance abuse treatment remains a critical need for Americans, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Widespread anxiety about the novel coronavirus and social isolation due to stay-at-home orders has contributed to an increase in the use of drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. This could have serious, long-term effects on behavioral health in the United States.
Medication-Assisted Treatment Shows Effectiveness
One of the most successful types of treatment for opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment (MAT), also known as medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD). In fact, it has been called the “gold standard” for treating opioid addiction.
The FDA has approved naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone for use in MAT for opioid use disorder. These drugs help reduce cravings or block the effects of opiates.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), MAT has been shown to:
Improve addiction treatment client survival
Help keep individuals in treatment
Help reduce criminal activity
Increase ability to get and keep a job
Improve birth outcomes in pregnant women with SUD
Despite its effectiveness, however, it remains largely underused in most U.S. addiction treatment programs.
New Research on MAT Underutilization
Most U.S. residential treatment facilities for opioid use disorder (OUD) do not use MAT, a new study shows
Researchers looked at data from 2,863 residential treatment centers and 232,414 patient admissions for OUD in 2017. Only 15 percent of all patients included in the study had MAT as part of their treatment plan.
Some key findings of the study:
60 percent of facilities in the study did not offer any MAT.
Only 1.3 percent offered all three FDA-approved MOUDs.
Buprenorphine was the most common MOUD, used by one-third of facilities.
Only 2.1 percent of facilities offered methadone.
“There was no appreciable difference in MOUD availability in residential facilities in states that did or did not expand Medicaid,” the researchers noted. However, more treatment plans for patients admitted in Medicaid expansion states included MOUDs than plans for patients in non-expansion states.
The researchers note that addiction treatment providers face numerous barriers when it comes to offering MATs. These restrictions include:
Prior authorization to prescribe buprenorphine or extended-release naltrexone
Requiring buprenorphine to be distributed by an opioid treatment program
Lifetime limits on buprenorphine doses larger than 8 mg
Assigned levels of care and reimbursement, often determined by insurance coverage, do not always match what the provider or client think are appropriate for treatment
Get the full study from JAMA Network Open.
Treating OUD and other forms of addiction is a complex issue that requires different plans for different clients. BestNotes EHR solutions allow you to customize your experience so your behavioral health or addiction treatment organization can treat clients as individuals, improving outcomes and revenue. Contact us today to learn more.