Medication-assisted treatment is referred to by many within the field as the “gold standard,” but a study published on JAMA Network Open in July shows that use of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) is anything but standard at residential facilities across the country.
The cross-sectional study of 2,863 residential treatment centers and 232,414 patient admissions in 2017 found that 60% of facilities offered zero MOUDs and only 1.3% offered all three MOUDs studied (extended-release naltrexone, buprenorphine and methadone). Among the study’s other findings:
- 33.3% of facilities offered buprenorphine; 29.8% offered extended-release naltrexone; 2.1% offered methadone.
- Just 15% of the 232,414 patients studied had any MOUD as part of their treatment plan.
- While there was “no appreciable difference” in the availability of MOUDs in states that expanded Medicaid vs. those that did not, MOUDs were part of treatment for 17.7% of OUD patients who were admitted to treatment centers in expansion states vs. 1.9% of patients in non-Medicaid expansion states.
“Many of the facilities that claim they have OUD medications appear not to be using them,” Andrew S. Huhn, PhD, MBA, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University and the study’s lead author, told Pain Medicine News. “This is surprising, considering that most patients require supervised withdrawal, which is a terrible experience to go through, especially if treatment is without an opioid agonist like methadone or a partial agonist like buprenorphine.”