Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute

Nation’s Opioid Addiction Treatment System During COVID-19 Needs Reform

Opioid pills

This opinion piece, written by ADAI principal research scientist Caleb Banta-Green, PhD, MPH, MSW with Regina Labelle. JD (Georgetown University Law Center) and Yngvild Olsen, MD, MPH (addiction medicine specialist), describes the challenges associated with medication treatment for opioid use disorder in a time when social distancing has become a vital part of protecting public and personal health.

CDC officials recently encouraged people to have a 2-week supply of their medications on hand in case of disruption of daily activities due to COVID-19 in the community. Unfortunately, for people taking medications for opioid use disorder, this simply may not be possible — without critical federal intervention.

Several states, including Washington state and New York, have issued guidance to opioid treatment providers about continuing treatment services in areas affected by COVID-19. This guidance is helpful, as is the new guidance from SAMHSA allowing more flexibility for take-home methadone during this national emergency.

However, the authors argue, existing federal laws that apply to opioid treatment providers are rooted in stigma and states must still move to adopt SAMHSA’s new guidance.

Read the opinion piece here (The Hill).