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1.
Subst Abus ; 43(1): 1251-1259, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1878618

ABSTRACT

Background: As the drug-related overdose crisis and COVID-19 pandemic continue, communities need increased access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) (i.e., buprenorphine and methadone). Disparities in the type of MOUD prescribed or administered by racial and ethnic categories are well described in the outpatient clinical environment. It is unknown, however, if these disparities persist when MOUD is provided in acute care hospitals. Methods: This study assessed differences in the delivery of buprenorphine versus methadone during acute medical or surgical hospitalizations for veterans with opioid use disorder (OUD) by racial categories (Black Non-Hispanic or Latino vs. White Non-Hispanic or Latino). Data were obtained retrospectively from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) for federal fiscal year 2017. We built logistic regression models, adjusted for individual and hospital-related covariates, and calculated the predicted probabilities of MOUD delivery by racial categories. Results: The study cohort (n = 1,313 unique patients; N = 107 VHA hospitals) had a mean age of 57 (range 23 to 87 years), was predominantly male (96%), and composed entirely of Black (29%) or White (71%) patients. White patients were 11% more likely than Black patients to receive buprenorphine than methadone during hospitalization (p = 0.010; 95% CI: 2.7%, 20.0%). Among patients on MOUD prior to hospitalization, White patients were 21% more likely than Black patients to receive buprenorphine (p = 0.000; 95% CI: 9.8%, 31.5%). Among patients newly initiated on MOUD during hospitalization, there were no differences by racial categories. Conclusion: We observed disparities in the delivery of buprenorphine versus methadone during hospitalization by racial categories. The observed differences in hospital-based MOUD delivery may be influenced by MOUD received prior to hospitalization within the racialized outpatient addiction treatment system. The VHA and health systems more broadly must address all aspects of racism that contribute to inequitable MOUD access throughout all clinical contexts.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Opioid-Related Disorders , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Female , Hospitalization , Humans , Male , Methadone/therapeutic use , Middle Aged , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies , Young Adult
2.
Soc Sci Med ; 305: 115034, 2022 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1872051

ABSTRACT

Despite growing awareness of opioid use disorder (OUD), fatal overdoses and downstream health conditions (e.g., hepatitis C and HIV) continue to rise in some populations. Various interrelated structural forces, together with social and economic determinants, contribute to this ongoing crisis; among these, access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and stigma towards people with OUD remain understudied. We combined data on methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone providers from SAMHSA's 2019 directory, additional naltrexone providers from Vivitrol's location finder service, with a nationally representative survey called "The AmeriSpeak survey on stigma toward people with OUD." Integrating the social-ecological framework, we focus on individual characteristics, personal and family members' experience with OUD, and spatial access to MOUD at the community level. We use nationally representative survey data from 3008 respondents who completed their survey in 2020. Recognizing that stigma is a multifaceted construct, we also examine how the process varies for different types of stigma, specifically perceived dangerousness and untrustworthiness, as well as social distancing measures under different scenarios. We found a significant association between stigma and spatial access to MOUD - more resources are related to weaker stigma. Respondents had a stronger stigma towards people experiencing current OUD (versus past OUD), and they were more concerned about OUD if the person would marry into their family (versus being their coworkers). Additionally, respondents' age, sex, education, and personal experience with OUD were also associated with their stigma, and the association can vary depending on the specific type of stigma. Overall, stigma towards people with OUD was associated with both personal experiences and environmental measures.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , Opioid-Related Disorders , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Naltrexone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Surveys and Questionnaires
3.
Drug Alcohol Depend ; 236: 109459, 2022 Jul 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1850939

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: We assessed the impact of COVID-19, which includes the declaration of a state of emergency and subsequent release of pandemic-specific OAT guidance (March 17, 2020 to March 23, 2020) on the prevalence of OAT discontinuation. METHODS: We conducted a population-based time series analysis using interventional autoregressive integrated moving average models among Ontario residents who were stable (>60 days of continuous use) and not yet stable on OAT. Specifically, we examined whether COVID-19 impacted the weekly percentage of individuals who discontinued OAT, overall and stratified by treatment type (methadone vs. buprenorphine/naloxone). Additionally, we compared demographic characteristics and patient outcomes among people stable on OAT who discontinued treatment during (March 17, 2020 to November 30, 2020) and prior (July 3, 2019 to March 16, 2020) to the pandemic. RESULTS: The weekly prevalence of OAT discontinuation across the study period ranged between 0.6% and 1.1%, among those stable on treatment compared to 7.3% and 16.6%, among those not stable on treatment. Following COVID-19, there was no significant change in the percentage of Ontarians who discontinued OAT, regardless of whether they were stabilized on treatment. Among those stable on OAT, a similar proportion of patients restarted therapy and experienced opioid-related harm following an OAT discontinuation. However, mortality following OAT discontinuation must be noted, as approximately 1.4% and 0.8% of people who discontinued methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone respectively, died within 30 days of discontinuation. CONCLUSIONS: Trends in the prevalence of OAT discontinuation did not significantly change during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , Buprenorphine, Naloxone Drug Combination/therapeutic use , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Ontario/epidemiology , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Pandemics , Prevalence , Time Factors
4.
Subst Abus ; 43(1): 1143-1150, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1830535

ABSTRACT

Background: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States (US) was already facing an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths. Overdose deaths continued to surge during the pandemic. To limit COVID-19 spread and to avoid disruptions in access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), including buprenorphine and methadone, US federal and state agencies granted unprecedented exemptions to existing MOUD guidelines for Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs), including loosening criteria for unsupervised take-home doses. We conducted a qualitative study to evaluate the impact of these policy changes on MOUD treatment experiences for providers and patients at an OTP in California. Methods: We interviewed 10 providers (including two physicians, five social worker associates, and three nurse practitioners) and 20 patients receiving MOUD. We transcribed, coded, and analyzed all interviews to identify emergent themes. Results: Patient participants were middle-aged (median age 51 years) and were predominantly men (53%). Providers discussed clinical decision-making processes and experiences providing take-homes. Implementation of expanded take-home policies was cautious. Providers reported making individualized decisions, using patient factors to decide if benefits outweighed risks of overdose and misuse. Decision-making factors included patient drug use, overdose risk, housing status, and vulnerability to COVID-19. New patient groups started receiving take-homes and providers noted few adverse events. Patients who received take-homes reported increased autonomy and treatment flexibility, which in turn increased likelihood of treatment stabilization and engagement. Patients who remained ineligible for take-homes, usually due to ongoing non-prescribed opioid or benzodiazepine use, desired greater transparency and shared decision-making. Conclusion: Federal exemptions in response to COVID-19 led to the unprecedented expansion of access to MOUD take-homes within OTPs. Providers and patients perceived benefits to expanding access to take-homes and experienced few adverse outcomes, suggesting expanded take-home policies should remain post-COVID-19. Future studies should explore whether these findings are generalizable to other OTPs and assess larger samples to quantify patient-level outcomes resulting from expanded take-home policies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Opioid-Related Disorders , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Female , Freedom , Humans , Male , Methadone/therapeutic use , Middle Aged , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Pandemics , Qualitative Research , United States
5.
Eur Addict Res ; 28(1): 80-86, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1822119

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Opioid agonist treatment (OAT) is the first-line treatment for opioid dependence. Currently available OAT options comprise oral (methadone and morphine) and sublingual (buprenorphine) routes of administration. In Switzerland and some other countries, severely opioid-dependent individuals with insufficient response to oral or sublingual OAT are offered heroin-assisted treatment (HAT), which involves the provision of injected or oral medical heroin (diacetylmorphine [DAM]). However, many patients on treatment with injectable DAM (i-HAT) suffer from injection-related problems such as deteriorated vein status, ulcerations, endocarditis, and abscesses. Other patients who do not respond to oral OAT do not inject but snort opioids, and are not eligible for i-HAT. For this population, there is no other short-acting OAT with rapid onset of action available unless they switch to injecting, which is associated with higher risks. Nasal DAM (n-HAT) could be an alternative treatment option suitable for both populations of patients. METHODS: We present a case series of 3 patients on i-HAT who successfully switched to n-HAT. RESULTS/CONCLUSIONS: This is the first description of the clinical use of the nasal route of administration for HAT. n-HAT may constitute an important risk-reduced rapid-onset alternative to i-HAT. In particular, it may be suited for patients with injection-related complications, or noninjecting opioid-dependent patients failing to respond to oral OAT.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , Opioid-Related Disorders , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , Heroin/therapeutic use , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy
6.
Subst Use Misuse ; 57(7): 1144-1153, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1806026

ABSTRACT

Background Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) are associated with important public health benefits. Program changes implemented in response to COVID-19 hold promise as ongoing strategies to improve MOUD treatment. Methods: MOUD patients on buprenorphine or methadone, providers, government regulators, and persons who use drugs not in MOUD were recruited in the Northeast region of the United States between June and October of 2020 via advertisements, fliers, and word of mouth. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted. Interviews were professionally transcribed and thematically coded by two independent coders. Results: We conducted interviews with 13 people currently on buprenorphine, 11 currently on methadone, 3 previously on buprenorphine, 4 previously on methadone, and 6 who used drugs but had never been on MOUD. In addition, we interviewed MOUD providers, clinic staff, and government officials at agencies that regulate MOUD. Most participants found increased take-home doses, home medication delivery, and telehealth implemented during COVID-19 to be favorable, reporting that these program changes reduced travel time to clinics, facilitated retention in care, and reduced stigma associated with clinic attendance. However, some participants reported negative consequences of COVID-19, most notably, decreased access to basic resources, such as food, clothing, and harm reduction materials that had previously been distributed at some MOUD clinics. Conclusion: Access to and retention in MOUD can be lifesaving for persons using drugs. COVID-19-impelled program changes, including increased take-home doses, home medication delivery, and telehealth generally improved participants' experiences with MOUD. Making these permanent could improve retention in care.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pharmaceutical Preparations , United States
7.
JAMA Netw Open ; 5(4): e227028, 2022 04 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1798069

ABSTRACT

Importance: Given that COVID-19 and recent natural disasters exacerbated the shortage of medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) services and were associated with increased opioid overdose mortality, it is important to examine how a community's ability to respond to natural disasters and infectious disease outbreaks is associated with MOUD access. Objective: To examine the association of community vulnerability to disasters and pandemics with geographic access to each of the 3 MOUDs and whether this association differs by urban, suburban, or rural classification. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study of zip code tabulation areas (ZCTAs) in the continental United States excluding Washington, DC, conducted a geospatial analysis of 2020 treatment location data. Exposures: Social vulnerability index (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measure of vulnerability to disasters or pandemics). Main Outcomes and Measures: Drive time in minutes from the population-weighted center of the ZCTA to the ZCTA of the nearest treatment location for each treatment type (buprenorphine, methadone, and extended-release naltrexone). Results: Among 32 604 ZCTAs within the continental US, 170 within Washington, DC, and 20 without an urban-rural classification were excluded, resulting in a final sample of 32 434 ZCTAs. Greater social vulnerability was correlated with longer drive times for methadone (correlation, 0.10; 95% CI, 0.09 to 0.11), but it was not correlated with access to other MOUDs. Among rural ZCTAs, increasing social vulnerability was correlated with shorter drive times to buprenorphine (correlation, -0.10; 95% CI, -0.12 to -0.08) but vulnerability was not correlated with other measures of access. Among suburban ZCTAs, greater vulnerability was correlated with both longer drive times to methadone (correlation, 0.22; 95% CI, 0.20 to 0.24) and extended-release naltrexone (correlation, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.13 to 0.17). Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, communities with greater vulnerability did not have greater geographic access to MOUD, and the mismatch between vulnerability and medication access was greatest in suburban communities. Rural communities had poor geographic access regardless of vulnerability status. Future disaster preparedness planning should match the location of services to communities with greater vulnerability to prevent inequities in overdose deaths.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , Cross-Sectional Studies , Health Services Accessibility , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Naltrexone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment/methods , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , United States/epidemiology
9.
J Osteopath Med ; 122(7): 367-374, 2022 Mar 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1742053

ABSTRACT

CONTEXT: The American opioid epidemic has necessitated the search for safe and effective means of treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD). Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) encompasses select medications that are proven effective treatments for OUD. Understanding the mechanisms of action, indications, and implementation of MAT is paramount to increasing its availability to all individuals struggling with opioid addiction. OBJECTIVES: This review is based on an educational series that aims to educate healthcare providers and ancillary healthcare members on the use of MAT for the treatment of OUD. METHODS: The database PubMed was utilized to retrieve articles discussing the implementation of MAT. Boolean operators and Medical Subject Headings (MeSHs) were applied including: MAT and primary care, MAT and telehealth, methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, MAT and osteopathic, MAT and group therapy, and MAT and COVID-19. RESULTS: Three medications have been approved for the treatment of OUD: methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine. Identifying ways to better treat and manage OUD and to combat stigmatization are paramount to dismantling barriers that have made treatment less accessible. Studies suggest that primary care providers are well positioned to provide MAT to their patients, particularly in rural settings. However, no study has compared outcomes of different MAT models of care, and more research is required to guide future efforts in expanding the role of MAT in primary care settings. CONCLUSIONS: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to changes in the way MAT care is managed. Patients require a novel point-of-care approach to obtain care. This review will define the components of MAT, consider the impact of MAT in the primary care setting, and identify barriers to effective MAT. Increasing the availability of MAT treatment will allow for greater access to comprehensive treatment and will set the standard for accessibility of novel OUD treatment in the future.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Naltrexone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Opioid-Related Disorders/rehabilitation , United States
10.
Rural Remote Health ; 21(4): 6770, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1716365

ABSTRACT

CONTEXT: The COVID-19 pandemic led to several changes to methadone treatment protocols at federal opioid treatment programs in the USA. ISSUE: Protocol changes were designed to reduce transmission of COVID-19 while allowing for continuity of care, but those changes also demonstrated that many policies surrounding opioid use disorder care in the USA cause unnecessary burdens to patients. In this commentary, we describe how current policies create and maintain fatal barriers to methadone treatment for people in rural communities who have opioid use disorder, and highlight how COVID-19 adaptations and more flexible methadone models in other countries can better allow for effective and accessible care. Reasons and ways to address these issues to create lasting solutions for rural communities are discussed. LESSONS LEARNED: We focus on three lessons: (1) methadone dispensing and take-home schedules during COVID-19, (2) telehealth services during COVID-19, and (3) international models in use prior to COVID-19. We then outline recommendations for each lesson to improve access to methadone treatment long term for rural communities in the USA. There is an urgent need to implement recommendations that maintain flexible approaches and address methadone treatment barriers in the rural USA. To achieve lasting health policy change and combat stigma about addiction and methadone treatment, there is a need for advocacy efforts that give voice to rural residents impacted by inequitable access to methadone treatment and rural-tailored educational initiatives that promote the evidence base for methadone. We hope opioid treatment program directors, regulatory authorities, and health policymakers consider our recommendations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/psychology , Delivery of Health Care/organization & administration , Health Services Accessibility , Methadone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment/statistics & numerical data , Opioid-Related Disorders/rehabilitation , Rural Population , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Opiate Substitution Treatment/methods , Opioid-Related Disorders/psychology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , United States
11.
Int J Drug Policy ; 102: 103591, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1693693

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Methadone is a highly effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Its use in the United States is highly regulated at both the federal and state level. The regulations related to take-home doses were loosened because of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus public health emergency declaration. The aim was to assess the effect of loosened regulations on methadone-related exposures reported to poison control centers. METHODS: Retrospective analysis of population-based intentional methadone exposures (in persons 18 years of age and older) reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System. A quasi-experimental design looking at one year before and after the March 16, 2020 loosening of methadone take-home regulations. Severity of exposure was assessed by: disposition (discharged from emergency department, admitted to non-critical care versus critical care units), medical treatments received, and medical outcomes (no effect, minor effect, moderate effect, major effect, death). One tail Student t-test and Chi Square were used; p significance was <0.05. RESULTS: The number of adult intentional exposures involving methadone increased by 5.3% in the year following the change in federal regulations (p<0.05). There was no statistically significant difference in distribution of age, gender, whether exposures involved methadone-only or methadone plus other substances, therapies administered or hospitalizations. There was no difference in overall distribution of medical outcomes, including deaths. CONCLUSIONS: Although the number of exposures involving methadone increased post-regulation change, the severity of exposures remained unchanged. Various additional factors (Medicare and Medicaid expansion; increased number of opioid treatment programs) may have also contributed to this increase. As federal officials consider possible permanent changes to the methadone regulations, it is important to evaluate potential related risks and benefits. This study lends support to the consideration that loosening of methadone regulations does not necessarily lead to a substantial increase in severity of exposures.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Poison Control Centers , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Humans , Medicare , Methadone/therapeutic use , Retrospective Studies , United States/epidemiology
12.
Addict Sci Clin Pract ; 16(1): 72, 2021 12 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1571935

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In the United States, methadone for opioid use disorder (OUD) is highly regulated. Federal agencies announced guidelines in March 2020 allowing for relaxation of take-home methadone dispensing at opioid treatment programs (OTPs) to improve treatment access and reduce COVID-19 transmission risk during the public health emergency. We explored patient perspectives at three OTPs serving rural communities on how take-home policy changes were received and implemented and how these changes impacted their addiction treatment and recovery. METHODS: We completed semi-structured individual qualitative interviews in 2 phases: (1) August-October 2020 and (2) November 2020-January 2021 (total n = 46), anticipating possible policy changes as the pandemic progressed. We interviewed patients with OUD enrolled at 3 rural OTPs in Oregon. Participants received varying take-home methadone allowances following the COVID-19-related policy changes. All interviews were conducted via phone, audio-recorded, and transcribed. We conducted a thematic analysis, iteratively coding transcripts, and deductively and inductively generating codes. RESULTS: The 46 participants included 50% women and 89% had Medicaid insurance. Three main themes emerged in the analysis, with no differences between study phases: (1) Adapting to changing OTP policies throughout the pandemic; (2) Recognizing the benefits, and occasional struggles, with increased take-home methadone dosing; and (3) Continuing policies and procedures post-pandemic. Participants described fears and anxieties around ongoing methadone access and safety concerns prior to OTP policy changes, but quickly adapted as protocols soon seemed "natural." The majority of participants acknowledged significant benefits to increased take-homes independent of reducing COVID-19 infection risk including feeling "more like a normal person," improved recovery support, reduced time traveling, and having more time with family and for work. Looking to a post-pandemic future, participants thought some COVID-19-related safety protocols should continue that would reduce risk of other infections, make OTP settings less stressful, and result in more individualized care. CONCLUSIONS: As the pandemic progressed, study participants adapted to rapidly changing OTP policies. Participants noted many unanticipated benefits to increased take-home methadone and other COVID-19 protocols including strengthened self-efficacy and recovery and reduced interpersonal conflict, with limited evidence of diversion. Patient perspectives should inform future policies to better address the ongoing overdose epidemic.


Subject(s)
Analgesics, Opioid , COVID-19 , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Policy , Rural Population , SARS-CoV-2 , United States
13.
Am J Public Health ; 111(12): 2115-2117, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1561322

ABSTRACT

Opioid agonist medication, including methadone, is considered the first-line treatment for opioid use disorder. Methadone, when taken daily, reduces the risk of fatal overdose; however, overdose risk increases following medication cessation. Amid an overdose epidemic accelerated by the proliferation of fentanyl, ensuring continuity of methadone treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic is a vital public health priority. (Am J Public Health. 2021;111(12):2115-2117. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2021.306523).


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control/organization & administration , Methadone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment/methods , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Adult , Comorbidity , Female , Humans , Male , Methadone/administration & dosage , Middle Aged , New York City/epidemiology , Pandemics , Program Evaluation , SARS-CoV-2 , Telemedicine/organization & administration
14.
Rural Remote Health ; 21(4): 6770, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1513371

ABSTRACT

CONTEXT: The COVID-19 pandemic led to several changes to methadone treatment protocols at federal opioid treatment programs in the USA. ISSUE: Protocol changes were designed to reduce transmission of COVID-19 while allowing for continuity of care, but those changes also demonstrated that many policies surrounding opioid use disorder care in the USA cause unnecessary burdens to patients. In this commentary, we describe how current policies create and maintain fatal barriers to methadone treatment for people in rural communities who have opioid use disorder, and highlight how COVID-19 adaptations and more flexible methadone models in other countries can better allow for effective and accessible care. Reasons and ways to address these issues to create lasting solutions for rural communities are discussed. LESSONS LEARNED: We focus on three lessons: (1) methadone dispensing and take-home schedules during COVID-19, (2) telehealth services during COVID-19, and (3) international models in use prior to COVID-19. We then outline recommendations for each lesson to improve access to methadone treatment long term for rural communities in the USA. There is an urgent need to implement recommendations that maintain flexible approaches and address methadone treatment barriers in the rural USA. To achieve lasting health policy change and combat stigma about addiction and methadone treatment, there is a need for advocacy efforts that give voice to rural residents impacted by inequitable access to methadone treatment and rural-tailored educational initiatives that promote the evidence base for methadone. We hope opioid treatment program directors, regulatory authorities, and health policymakers consider our recommendations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/psychology , Delivery of Health Care/organization & administration , Health Services Accessibility , Methadone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment/statistics & numerical data , Opioid-Related Disorders/rehabilitation , Rural Population , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Opiate Substitution Treatment/methods , Opioid-Related Disorders/psychology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , United States
15.
J Subst Abuse Treat ; 135: 108655, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1500101

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: We conducted a qualitative study to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on experiences with addiction treatment and harm reduction services. METHODS: The study recruited participants from Boston, Massachusetts, aged 18-65 who had a history of opioid use disorder and overdose, from a parent study (REpeated dose Behavioral intervention to reduce Opioid Overdose, REBOOT) to participate between August and October 2020. In-depth individual interviews explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on addiction service experiences. We conducted a grounded content analysis that examined codes related to addiction service access and engagement during the pandemic to compare and categorize participants according to their experiences. RESULTS: The study enrolled twenty participants. The mean age was 42 years; most identified as white (n = 16); ten participants identified as men, nine as cis-gender women, and one as a trans-gender woman. Participants described their experiences with COVID-19-driven changes to addiction care (methadone take homes, televisits for either buprenorphine or behavioral health services, and syringe service outreach) access and engagement as: 1) liberating (n = 7), 2) destabilizing (n = 8), or 3) unjust (n = 5). Participants in the liberating group found adaptations allowed for increased flexibility, freedom, and safety from COVID-19. This group was mostly housed and had strong social supports that facilitated participation in adapted treatment programs. COVID-19-related changes to addiction treatment disrupted routine and community supports among those in the destabilizing group. Participants in the unjust group felt that adaptations exacerbated inequities as a lack of housing and other social supports prohibited them from benefiting from the relaxed restrictions to methadone or buprenorphine. This group was mostly unhoused and found that adaptations did not adequately mitigate other inequities worsened by public health mandates for unhoused people who use drugs. CONCLUSION: Relaxed restrictions on medications for opioid use disorder created opportunities for improved patient-centered care. Concrete measures that address service barriers, such as phone or transportation access, may have reduced destabilizing and unjust experiences reported by our participants. However, addiction care inequities will persist if drivers of marginalization, specifically a lack of housing, remain unaddressed.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Opiate Overdose , Opioid-Related Disorders , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Boston , Female , Humans , Male , Methadone/therapeutic use , Middle Aged , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/rehabilitation , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Survivors , Young Adult
16.
Subst Abus ; 43(1): 633-639, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1475646

ABSTRACT

Background: In the United States, methadone for treatment of opioid use disorder is dispensed via highly-regulated accredited opioid treatment programs (OTP). During the COVID-19 pandemic, federal regulations were loosened, allowing for greater use of take-home methadone doses. We sought to understand how OTP leaders responded to these policy changes. Methods: We distributed a multistate electronic survey from September to November 2020 of OTP leadership to members of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) who self-identified as leaders of OTPs. We asked study participants about how their OTP(s) implemented COVID-19-related policy changes into their clinical practice focusing on provision of take-home methadone doses, factors used to determine patient stability, and potential concerns about increased take-home doses. We used Chi-square test to compare survey responses between characterizations of the OTPs. Results: Of 170 survey respondents (17% response rate), the majority represented leadership of for-profit OTPs (69%) and were in a Southern state (54%). Routine allowances and practices related to take-home methadone doses varied across OTPs during the COVID-19 pandemic: 80 (47%) reported 14 days for newly enrolled patients (within past 90 days), 89 (52%) reported 14 days for "less stable" patients, and 112 (66%) reported 28 days for "stable" patients. Conclusions: We found that not all eligible OTP leaders adopted the practice of routinely allowing newly enrolled, "less stable," and "stable" patients on methadone to have increased take-home doses up to the limit allowed by federal regulations during COVID-19. The pandemic provides an opportunity to critically re-evaluate long-established methadone and OTP regulations in preparation for future emergencies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Humans , Leadership , Methadone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pandemics , Policy , SARS-CoV-2 , Surveys and Questionnaires , United States
17.
Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse ; 47(6): 722-729, 2021 11 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1475592

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Background: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) allowed for an increase in methadone take-home doses for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) in March 2020. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of the SAMSHA exemption on methadone adherence and OUD-related outcomes. METHODS: A convenience sample of 183 clients (58% female) were recruited from a methadone clinic in the fall of 2019 for a cross-sectional survey. Survey data was linked to clinical records, including urine drug testing (UDT) results for methadone and emergency department (ED) visits at the local hospital. Participants were on stable methadone dosing for 9 months prior to and following March 2020. Methadone adherence was assessed by UDTs; OUD-related outcomes were assessed by overdose events and ED visits. Logistic regression was used to assess the association between change in take-home methadone doses and outcomes. RESULTS: Mean take-home doses increased nearly 200% (11.4 doses/30 days pre-COVID-19 vs. 22.3 post-SAMHSA exemption). ED visits dropped from 74 (40.4%) pre-COVID-19 to 56 (30.6%) post-SAMHSA exemption (p = <0.001). No significant changes were observed in either the number of clients experiencing overdose or those who experienced one or more methadone negative UDTs in the post-SAMHSA exemption period. Adjusted models did not show a significant association between changes in take-home doses and associated outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Despite a near-doubling of take-home methadone doses during the COVID-19 exemption period, the increase in take-home doses was not associated with negative treatment outcomes in methadone-adherent clients.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Methadone , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , Male , Methadone/therapeutic use , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Treatment Outcome
18.
Drug Alcohol Depend ; 228: 109100, 2021 11 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1433145

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The loosening of U.S. methadone regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic expanded calls for methadone reform. This study examines professional perceptions of methadone take-home dose regulation before and during the COVID-19 pandemic to understand responses to varied methadone distribution policies. METHODS: Fifty-nine substance use disorder treatment professionals were interviewed between 2017 and 2020 in-person or over video call. An inductive iterative coding process was used to analyze the data. Constructivist grounded theory guided the collection and analysis of in-depth interviews. RESULTS: Treatment professionals expressed mixed views toward methadone take-home regulations. Participants justified regulation using several arguments: 1) patient care benefitting from supervision, 2) attributing improved patient safety to take-home regulation, 3) fearing liability for methadone-related harms, and 4) relying on buprenorphine as an "escape hatch" for patients who cannot manage MMT policies. Other professionals suggested partial deregulation, while others strongly opposed pre-pandemic take-home regulation, explaining such regulations impede medication access and hinder patient-centered care. Some professionals supported the COVID-19 policy changes and saw these as a test run for broader deregulation, while others framed the changes as temporary and cautiously applied deregulation to their services, at times revoking looser rules for patients they perceived as nonadherent. CONCLUSION: Treatment professionals working in a range of modalities, including opioid treatment programs, expressed hesitation toward expanded take-home methadone access. While some participants also supported forms of deregulation, post-pandemic efforts to extend looser methadone distribution policies will have to address apprehensive professionals if such policy changes are to be meaningfully adopted in community services.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pandemics , Perception , SARS-CoV-2
19.
Subst Abus ; 43(1): 539-546, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1406431

ABSTRACT

Background: Methadone and buprenorphine are effective medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) that are highly regulated in the United States. The on-going opioid crisis, and more recently COVID-19, has prompted reconsideration of these restrictions in order to sustain and improve treatment access, with renewed interest in telemedicine. We reviewed the evidence on use of telemedicine interventions and applicability to MOUD policy changes in the post-COVID-19 treatment landscape. Methods: Ovid MEDLINE and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews databases were searched from inception to April 2021 and reference lists were reviewed to identify additional studies. Studies were eligible if they examined telemedicine interventions and reported outcomes (e.g. treatment initiation, retention in care). Randomized trials and controlled observational studies were prioritized; other studies were included when stronger evidence was unavailable. One investigator abstracted key information and a second investigator verified data. We described the results qualitatively. Results: We identified nine studies: three controlled trials (two randomized), and six observational studies. Three studies evaluated patients treated with methadone and six studies with buprenorphine, including one study of pregnant women with OUD. All studies showed telemedicine approaches associated with similar outcomes (treatment retention, positive urine toxicology) compared to treatment as usual. Trials were limited by small samples sizes, lack of reporting harms, and most were conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; observational studies were limited by failure to control for confounding. Conclusions: Limited evidence suggests that telemedicine may enhance access to MOUD with similar effectiveness compared with face-to-face treatment. Few studies have been published since COVID-19, and it is unclear the potential impact of these interventions on the existing racial/ethnic disparities in treatment. The COVID-19 pandemic and need for social distancing led to temporary policy changes for prescribing of MOUD that could inform additional research in this area to support comprehensive policy reforms.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders , Pregnancy Complications, Infectious , Telemedicine , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , Female , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Pandemics , Pregnancy , SARS-CoV-2 , Systematic Reviews as Topic , United States
20.
Subst Use Misuse ; 56(14): 2134-2140, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1390318

ABSTRACT

Background: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted patients receiving methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) through opioid treatment programs (OTPs), especially because of the unique challenges of the care delivery model. Previously, documentation of patient experiences during emergencies often comes years after the fact, in part because there is a substantial data void in real-time. Methods: We extracted 308 posts that mention COVID-19 keywords on r/methadone, an online community for patients receiving MMT to share information, on Reddit occurring between January 31, 2020 and September 30, 2020. 215 of these posts self-report an impact to their MMT. Using qualitative content analysis, we characterized the impacts described in these posts and identified four emergent themes describing patients' experience of impacts to MMT during COVID-19. Results: The themes included (1) 54.4% of posts reporting impediments to accessing their methadone, (2) 28.4% reporting impediments to accessing physicial OTPs, (3) 19.5% reporting having to self-manage their care, and (4) 4.7% reporting impediments to accessing OTP providers and staff. Conclusions: Patients described unanticipated consequences to one-size-fits-all policies that are unevenly applied resulting in suboptimal dosing, increased perceived risk of acquiring COVID-19 at OTPs, and reduced interaction with OTP providers and staff. While preliminary, these results are formative for follow-up surveillance metrics for patients of OTPs as well as digitally-mediated resource needs for this online community. This study serves as a model of how social media can be employed during and after emergencies to hear the lived experiences of patients for informed emergency preparedness and response.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Methadone , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Patient Outcome Assessment , SARS-CoV-2 , Self Report
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