We know that medication-assisted treatment (MAT) saves lives. So why is it used by only a fraction of people with opioid use disorder (OUD)?
It’s a question that bedevils experts.
The evidence is clear: outcomes for patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) are vastly improved when they’re on medication-assisted therapy. OUD is a chronic brain disease that changes the structure of the brain. Simply stopping cold turkey is excruciating and mostly unsuccessful.
The three FDA-approved medications normalize brain structure and function, reducing cravings, significantly decreasing risk of relapse, preventing overdoses, and helping to prevent infectious diseases like HIV.
MAT has been effective in every treatment setting where it has been studied. Echoing the position of many other major health bodies, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine asserts, “To stem the opioid crisis, it is critical for all FDA-approved options to be available for all people with opioid use disorder.”
But as the opioid epidemic rages on, a great majority of people with opioid use disorder (OUD) don’t receive MAT.
Most people receive no treatment of any kind at all.Read More