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New CDC Data: 75% of People With Opioid Use Disorder Are Not Receiving Medication Treatment

Vital Strategies: “States should rapidly scale up low-barrier access to lifesaving medicines.” 

Researchers from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) analyzed data from the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to better understand how many people with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) are receiving effective treatment. The researchers found that, despite the fact that medications for OUD substantially reduce overdose, they are substantially under-utilized.

Among its conclusions, experts found that expanded communication about the effectiveness of medications for OUD is needed. Clinicians and other treatment providers should offer or arrange evidence-based treatment, including medications for OUD. Pharmacists and payers can support making these medications available without delays.

Statement from Daliah Heller, Vital Strategies, Vice President of Drug Use Initiatives: 

“We are in the midst of an overdose crisis that continues to claim more than 100,000 lives each year in the United States. It is unacceptable that so many treatment programs do not provide evidence-based care to people with opioid use disorder, who are at great risk for overdose death. Methadone and buprenorphine are lifesaving medications and these data demonstrate that our systems are not responding with the urgency, accountability, and innovation that this moment demands. 

Methadone and buprenorphine are the gold standard treatment for opioid use disorder. They must be normalized as a standard in primary, perinatal, emergency, and in-patient care and for people held in jails and prisons, and available through low-barrier services in every community across the country. Methadone and buprenorphine are critical tools for reducing overdose mortality. The stigma, lack of awareness, and structural inertia preventing adequate access and availability are perpetuating national harm. 

States are receiving billions of dollars in opioid settlement money right now. Increasing access to and awareness of methadone and buprenorphine should be a top priority.”

About Vital Strategies      

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our overdose prevention program works to strengthen and scale evidence-based, data-driven policies and interventions to create equitable and sustainable reductions in overdose deaths. Work across seven U.S. states is supported by funding from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Overdose Prevention Initiative, launched in 2018, and by targeted investments from other partners.    

Learn more here.