Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a serious problem that needs more attention.
Insufficient research has been done on the most effective treatment options, particularly drug-assisted treatment (MAT), which combines medicine with counseling and behavioral therapy.
The problem is that many people who need MAT don’t get it due to various obstacles such as stigma and cost.
A new study from West Virginia University has attempted to fill this gap by surveying more than 200 people in West Virginia who had an opioid use disorder and were in MAT.
Adam Baus, director of the Office of Health Services Research at the university, led the research.
The researchers found that people would be more willing to participate in MAT if there was less stigma and if they had more help paying. They made five recommendations to improve access to MAT:
- Make sure people are ready for treatment.
- Eliminate barriers to treatment such as: B. the cost, access to medication and transport to appointments.
- Provide more information about Medicaid that could cover the cost of MAT and transportation.
- Ensure treatment plans are individualized and respectful.
- Reduce the stigma of MAT by treating OUD like other chronic diseases.
The researchers also found that MAT is effective in treating OUD because it can reduce the risk of death, keep people in treatment, reduce illicit drug use and crime, help people find jobs, and improve birth outcomes in pregnant women with OUD.
However, only 28% of people who need MAT get them, and the time between starting opioid use and starting treatment is typically four to seven years.
In rural areas, access to MAT is even more difficult because of insufficient prescribing doctors, long waiting lists, and a lot of stigma.
However, people who stay in MAT for more than a year tend to get better results.
Most of the participants in the study were covered by Medicaid or Medicare, and almost all of them were currently in MAT. Most of them had been using drugs for more than 11 years.
The researchers found that the participants wanted to find a program that could help them improve their lives.
They concluded that addiction is a long-term problem and that there are also long-standing barriers to treatment and recovery. Reducing these barriers could make a significant difference in the treatment of OUD.
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The study was published in the Journal of Appalachian Health.
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