Twenty-eight years after opioid deaths began to rise in tandem with sharp increases in prescriptions for pain treatment, healthcare leaders have long since reached important conclusions about what’s working in stemming the tide of overdose deaths, and what isn’t. The challenge has been to align the actions of individuals, organizations and legislators with the evidence-based data on how to successfully treat opioid use disorder (OUD).
Top on the list of underutilized success stories is medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which combines behavioral therapy with one of three FDA-approved medications: buprenorphine, naltrexone or methadone. A study published last August by the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine was the first in the U.S. to compare how these three medications are used and how they impact mortality. The conclusions were startlingly clear: overdose survivors who went on to be treated with medication reduced their risk of death by 40 to 60 percent.
Despite the well-documented success rate of MAT, the Annals of Internal Medicine study found that only 30 percent of overdose survivors are given any one of the three FDA-approved medications for their disease.Read More