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Pharmacy News

Dr Marie Sartain
/ Categories: APhA News

Few adults receive medication for opioid use disorder

A new study in JAMA Network Open found that as drug overdose deaths have reached unprecedented levels in the United States, evidence-based treatments for substance use are severely underused.

The study, led by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Center for Injury Prevention, found that only about one-third of adults with opioid use disorder (OUD) received any type of treatment for substance use, and only about one in five received medication to treat OUD.

The study focused on data from more than 47,000 adults who participated in the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

An estimated 2.5 million adults nationwide have OUD, for which FDA has approved therapies such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

The study noted significant differences for those who received medication to treat OUD. Men with OUD were six times more likely than women to receive OUD treatment, while white adults were 14 times more likely to receive treatment compared with Black adults.

Adults living in nonurban areas and unemployed adults were also less likely to receive OUD medications.

In addition, the study backs previous findings which indicated the use of telehealth improved treatment rates. Individuals who received substance use treatment through telehealth were nearly 40 times more likely to receive medications for OUD compared with those who did not receive telehealth treatment, according to the researchers.

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