Study Finds Opioid Treatment Medications Underutilized

Jun 19, 2018

A new study finds that medications used to treat opioid use disorder are greatly underutilized even though they’re proven to significantly reduce chances of opioid-related deaths. 


The study found that opioid overdose deaths decreased by nearly 60 percent in populations receiving methadone treatment and almost 40 percent for those receiving buprenorphine, compared to patients not receiving medication-assisted treatment. In other words, if someone struggling with addiction participates in a medication assisted treatment program, they’re a whole lot less likely to die from an overdose.

The study also found that only about one in three overdosed patients were provided with any medication-assisted treatment in the first year following that overdose. Also, within a year, more than a third of those people were subsequently prescribed one or more prescriptions for opioid painkillers.

The study was conducted by the National Institutes of Health and published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.