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2.
Harm Reduct J ; 18(1): 119, 2021 11 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1538076

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The majority of individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) face access barriers to evidence-based treatment, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the United States (US) opioid overdose crisis. However, the pandemic has also ushered in rapid transitions to telehealth in the USA, including for substance use disorder treatment with buprenorphine. These changes have the potential to mitigate barriers to care or to exacerbate pre-existing treatment inequities. The objective of this study was to qualitatively explore Philadelphia-based low-barrier, harm-reduction oriented, opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment provider perspectives about and experiences with telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to assess their desire to offer telehealth to patients at their programs in the future. METHODS: We interviewed 22 OUD treatment prescribers and staff working outpatient programs offering OUD treatment with buprenorphine in Philadelphia during July and August 2020. All participants worked at low-barrier treatment programs that provide buprenorphine using a harm reduction-oriented approach and without mandating counseling or other requirements as a condition of treatment. We analyzed the data using thematic content analysis. RESULTS: Our analysis yielded three themes: 1/ Easier access for some: telehealth facilitates care for many patients who have difficulty attending in-person appointments due to logistical and psychological barriers; 2/ A layered digital divide: engagement with telehealth can be seriously limited by patients' access to and comfort with technology; and 3/ Clinician control: despite some clinic staff beliefs that patients should have the freedom to choose their treatment modality, patients' access to treatment via telehealth may hinge on clinician perceptions of patient "stability" rather than patient preferences. CONCLUSIONS: Telehealth may address many access issues, however, barriers to implementation remain, including patient ability and desire to attend healthcare appointments virtually. In addition, the potential for telehealth models to extend OUD care to patients currently underserved by in-person models may partially depend on clinician comfort treating patients deemed "unstable" via this modality. The ability of telehealth to expand access to OUD care for individuals who have previously struggled to engage with in-person care will likely be limited if these patients are not given the opportunity to receive treatment via telehealth.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders , Telemedicine , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , Humans , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , United States
3.
Addict Sci Clin Pract ; 16(1): 68, 2021 11 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1515451

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has exerted a significant toll on the lives of people who use opioids (PWUOs). At the same time, more flexible regulations around provision of opioid use disorder (OUD) services have led to new opportunities for facilitating access to services for PWUOs. In the current scoping review, we describe new services and service modifications implemented by treatment and harm reduction programs serving PWUO, and discuss implications for policy and practice. METHODS: Literature searches were conducted within PubMed, LitCovid, Embase, and PsycInfo for English-language studies published in 2020 that describe a particular program, service, or intervention aimed at facilitating access to OUD treatment and/or harm reduction services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Abstracts were independently screened by two reviewers. Relevant studies were reviewed in full and those that met inclusion criteria underwent final data extraction and synthesis (n = 25). We used a narrative synthesis approach to identify major themes around key service modifications and innovations implemented across programs serving PWUO. RESULTS: Reviewed OUD treatment and harm reduction services spanned five continents and a range of settings from substance use treatment to street outreach programs. Innovative service modifications to adapt to COVID-19 circumstances primarily involved expanded use of telehealth services (e.g., telemedicine visits for buprenorphine, virtual individual or group therapy sessions, provision of donated or publicly available phones), increased take-home medication allowances for methadone and buprenorphine, expanded uptake of long-acting opioid medications (e.g. extended-release buprenorphine and naltrexone), home delivery of services (e.g. MOUD, naloxone and urine drug screening), outreach and makeshift services for delivering MOUD and naloxone, and provision of a safe supply of opioids. CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic has posed multiple challenges for PWUOs, while simultaneously accelerating innovations in policies, care models, and technologies to lower thresholds for life-saving treatment and harm reduction services. Such innovations highlight novel patient-centered and feasible approaches to mitigating OUD related harms. Further studies are needed to assess the long-term impact of these approaches and inform policies that improve access to care for PWUOs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders , Harm Reduction , Humans , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
4.
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
6.
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
7.
Drug Alcohol Depend ; 228: 109049, 2021 11 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1433143

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic had the potential to severely disrupt the delivery of methadone and buprenorphine, as social distancing and other public health regulations made in-person services difficult to maintain. Federal and state regulators changed requirements regarding the dispensing of medication and in-person counseling at opioid treatment programs. Understanding staff and patient reactions to these changes can help determine whether they should be maintained. METHODS: We interviewed 25 directors of OTP programs located throughout the United States. Note takers wrote summaries of each interview which were coded for topics and themes covered in the interview guide, including changes to clinic practices, take-home medications, telehealth, patient and staff reactions to new COVID-related protocols, and financial concerns for programs. RESULTS: Most programs rapidly incorporated new regulatory requirements, and directors were generally positive about the impact of increased take-home doses of medication and increased reliance on telehealth. Some directors voiced concerns about these changes, and some reported that patients missed the daily clinical contact with staff. Directors also suggested that more time was needed to assess the full impact of these changes. Financial impacts varied, although many directors were quick to point out that the ongoing opioid epidemic has delivered a steady stream of new patients, thus offsetting potential financial losses. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, this study demonstrated the generally positive view of OTP directors to the regulatory changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. More time is needed to fully evaluate the impact of these changes on clinical outcomes.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Humans , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , United States/epidemiology
8.
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
11.
JAMA Netw Open ; 4(8): e2118487, 2021 08 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1375581

ABSTRACT

Importance: The demand for medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in rural US counties far outweighs their availability. Novel approaches to extend treatment capacity include telemedicine (TM) and mobile treatment on demand; however, their combined use has not been reported or evaluated. Objective: To evaluate the use of a TM mobile treatment unit (TM-MTU) to improve access to MOUD for individuals living in an underserved rural area. Design, Setting, and Participants: This quality improvement study evaluated data collected from adult outpatients with a diagnosis of OUD enrolled in the TM-MTU initiative from February 2019 (program inception) to June 2020. Program staff traveled to rural areas in a modified recreational vehicle equipped with medical, videoconferencing, and data collection devices. Patients were virtually connected with physicians based more than 70 miles (112 km) away. Data analysis was performed from June to October 2020. Intervention: Patients received buprenorphine prescriptions after initial teleconsultation and follow-up visits from a study physician specialized in addiction psychiatry and medicine. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was 3-month treatment retention, and the secondary outcome was opioid-positive urine screens. Exploratory outcomes included use of other drugs and patients' travel distance to treatment. Results: A total of 118 patients were enrolled in treatment, of whom 94 were seen for follow-up treatment predominantly (at least 2 of 3 visits [>50%]) on the TM-MTU; only those 94 patients' data are considered in all analyses. The mean (SD) age of patients was 36.53 (9.78) years, 59 (62.77%) were men, 71 (75.53%) identified as White, and 90 (95.74%) were of non-Hispanic ethnicity. Fifty-five patients (58.51%) were retained in treatment by 3 months (90 days) after baseline. Opioid use was reduced by 32.84% at 3 months, compared with baseline, and was negatively associated with treatment duration (F = 12.69; P = .001). In addition, compared with the nearest brick-and-mortar treatment location, TM-MTU treatment was a mean of 6.52 miles (range, 0.10-58.70 miles) (10.43 km; range, 0.16-93.92 km) and a mean of 10 minutes (range, 1-49 minutes) closer for patients. Conclusions and Relevance: These data demonstrate the feasibility of combining TM with mobile treatment, with outcomes (retention and opioid use) similar to those obtained from office-based TM MOUD programs. By implementing a traveling virtual platform, this clinical paradigm not only helps fill the void of rural MOUD practitioners but also facilitates access to underserved populations who are less likely to reach traditional medical settings, with critical relevance in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , COVID-19 , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pandemics , Rural Population , Telemedicine , Adult , Analgesics, Opioid , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2
12.
Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy ; 16(1): 60, 2021 08 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1350150

ABSTRACT

RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted healthcare delivery worldwide with likely negative effects on people who use opioids (PWUO). This scoping review of the original research literature describes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare delivery for PWUO and identifies gaps in the literature. METHODS: This scoping review of the original research literature maps the available knowledge regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare delivery for PWUO. We utilized the methodology developed by the Joanna Briggs Institute for scoping reviews, and content analyses methodology to characterize the current state of the literature. RESULTS: Of the 14 included studies, administrative database (n = 11), cross-sectional (n = 1) or qualitative (n = 2) studies demonstrated service gaps (n = 7), patient/provider experiences (n = 3), and patient outcomes for PWUO (n = 4). In March 2020, healthcare utilization dropped quickly, sharply increasing only for reasons of opioid overdose by May 2020. Service gaps existed in accessing treatment for new patients during the pandemic due to capacity and infrastructure limits. Physicians reported difficulty referring patients to begin an outpatient opioid treatment program due to increased restrictions in capacity and infrastructure. Patients also reported uncertainty about accessing outpatient treatment, but that telehealth initiation of buprenorphine increased access to treatment from home. Disproportionate increases in overdose rates among African Americans were reported in two studies, with differences by race and gender not examined in most studies. Fatal overdoses increased 60% in African Americans during the pandemic, while fatal overdoses in Non-Hispanic White individuals decreased. CONCLUSIONS: In summary, this beginning evidence demonstrates that despite early reluctance to use the healthcare system, opioid overdose-related use of healthcare increased throughout the pandemic. Service delivery for medications to treat OUD remained at or above pre-pandemic levels, indicating the ability of telehealth to meet demand. Yet, racial disparities that existed pre-pandemic for PWUO are intensifying, and targeted intervention for high-risk groups is warranted to prevent further mortality. As the pandemic progresses, future research must focus on identifying and supporting subgroups of PWUO who are at heightened risk for experiencing negative outcomes and lack of access to care.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Drug Overdose/epidemiology , Health Services Accessibility/organization & administration , Opioid-Related Disorders/therapy , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , Cross-Sectional Studies , Drug Overdose/ethnology , Drug Overdose/mortality , Emergency Medical Services/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Narcotic Antagonists/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pandemics , Patient Satisfaction , SARS-CoV-2 , Telemedicine/organization & administration
13.
JAMA Netw Open ; 4(7): e2118223, 2021 07 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1321668

ABSTRACT

Importance: Methadone access may be uniquely vulnerable to disruption during COVID-19, and even short delays in access are associated with decreased medication initiation and increased illicit opioid use and overdose death. Relative to Canada, US methadone provision is more restricted and limited to specialized opioid treatment programs. Objective: To compare timely access to methadone initiation in the US and Canada during COVID-19. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study was conducted from May to June 2020. Participating clinics provided methadone for opioid use disorder in 14 US states and territories and 3 Canadian provinces with the highest opioid overdose death rates. Statistical analysis was performed from July 2020 to January 2021. Exposures: Nation and type of health insurance (US Medicaid and US self-pay vs Canadian provincial). Main Outcomes and Measures: Proportion of clinics accepting new patients and days to first appointment. Results: Among 268 of 298 US clinics contacted as a patient with Medicaid (90%), 271 of 301 US clinics contacted as a self-pay patient (90%), and 237 of 288 Canadian clinics contacted as a patient with provincial insurance (82%), new patients were accepted for methadone at 231 clinics (86%) during US Medicaid contacts, 230 clinics (85%) during US self-pay contacts, and at 210 clinics (89%) during Canadian contacts. Among clinics not accepting new patients, at least 44% of 27 clinics reported that the COVID-19 pandemic was the reason. The mean wait for first appointment was greater among US Medicaid contacts (3.5 days [95% CI, 2.9-4.2 days]) and US self-pay contacts (4.1 days [95% CI, 3.4-4.8 days]) than Canadian contacts (1.9 days [95% CI, 1.7-2.1 days]) (P < .001). Open-access model (walk-in hours for new patients without an appointment) utilization was reported by 57 Medicaid (30%), 57 self-pay (30%), and 115 Canadian (59%) contacts offering an appointment. Conclusions and Relevance: In this cross-sectional study of 2 nations, more than 1 in 10 methadone clinics were not accepting new patients. Canadian clinics offered more timely methadone access than US opioid treatment programs. These results suggest that the methadone access shortage was exacerbated by COVID-19 and that changes to the US opioid treatment program model are needed to improve the timeliness of access. Increased open-access model adoption may increase timely access.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Health Services Accessibility , Methadone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/therapy , Pandemics , Waiting Lists , Ambulatory Care Facilities , Analgesics, Opioid , Canada , Cross-Sectional Studies , Financing, Personal , Health Services , Insurance, Health , Medicaid , United States
15.
J Addict Med ; 15(2): 93-95, 2021 04 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1284900

ABSTRACT

Methadone regulations have changed minimally since 1974, despite advances in the understanding of the nature of opioid use disorder (OUD) and the role of medications in its treatment. At that time, most patients with OUD were considered to have anti-social personality disorders and the regulations aimed to exert maximal control over medication access. Six- or seven-day clinic attendance is required for months, regardless of distance, or childcare and other social responsibilities. Take home medications are not allowed unless rigid and formulaic conditions are met. Although addiction medicine has rejected the "criminal" paradigm in favor of OUD as a treatable medical disorder, methadone regulations have not kept pace with the science. Pregnancy is characterized by an ultra-rapid metabolic state, but regulations prevent the use of daily divided doses of methadone to maintain stability. This results in repeated episodes of maternal/fetal opioid withdrawal, as well as other fetal physiologic abnormalities. Interference with dose regimen adjustments prevents optimal outcomes. Further, methadone clinics are mostly urban, leaving patients in rural areas without access. This led to excessive morbidity and mortality when the opioid crisis hit. The response of merely expanding capacity in overcrowded urban clinics created a contagion menace when Covid-19 arrived. Pregnant women (and parents with children) were forced to negotiate dosing in dangerous conditions. A revised methadone system must provide treatment that is local, flexible, and limited in size to manage viral contagion risks. This regulatory change can most easily be started by changing regulations that adversely affect pregnant women.


Subject(s)
Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Health Policy , Methadone/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment/methods , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pregnancy Complications/drug therapy , Analgesics, Opioid/administration & dosage , Analgesics, Opioid/adverse effects , Dose-Response Relationship, Drug , Female , Humans , Methadone/administration & dosage , Methadone/adverse effects , Pregnancy , United States
16.
J Rural Health ; 37(3): 467-472, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1280350

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: Tracking changes in care utilization of medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) services before, during, and after COVID-19-associated changes in policy and service delivery in a mixed rural and micropolitan setting. METHODS: Using a retrospective, open-cohort design, we examined visit data of MOUD patients at a family medicine clinic across three identified periods: pre-COVID, COVID transition, and COVID. Outcome measures include the number and type of visits (in-person or telehealth), the number of new patients entering treatment, and the number of urine drug screens performed. Distance from patient residence to clinic was calculated to assess access to care in rural areas. Goodness-of-Fit Chi-Square tests and ANOVAs were used to identify differences between time periods. FINDINGS: Total MOUD visits increased during COVID (436 pre vs. 581 post, p < 0.001), while overall new patient visits remained constant (33 pre vs. 29 post, p = 0.755). The clinic's overall catchment area increased in size, with new patients coming primarily from rural areas. Length of time between urine drug screens increased (21.1 days pre vs. 43.5 days post, p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: The patterns of MOUD care utilization during this period demonstrate the effectiveness of telehealth in this area. Policy changes allowing for MOUD to be delivered via telehealth, waiving the need for in-person initiation of MOUD, and increased Medicaid compensation for MOUD may play a valuable role in improving access to MOUD during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Opioid-Related Disorders/therapy , Telemedicine/organization & administration , Aged , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , Continuity of Patient Care/organization & administration , Delivery of Health Care/organization & administration , Female , Health Policy , Health Services Accessibility , Healthcare Disparities , Humans , Male , Medicare , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies , Rural Health Services , SARS-CoV-2 , United States/epidemiology
17.
J Subst Abuse Treat ; 132: 108514, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1253266

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: The COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented temporary federal and state regulatory flexibilities that rapidly transformed medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) treatment delivery. This study aimed to understand changes in treatment providers' care during COVID-19, provider experiences with the adaptations, and perceptions of which changes should be sustained long-term. METHODS: We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 20 New Jersey MOUD providers, purposively sampled to reflect diversity in provider setting, specialty, and other characteristics. Using a rapid analysis approach, we summarized content within interview domains and analyzed domains across participants for recurring concepts and themes. RESULTS: MOUD treatment practice changes taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic included a rapid shift from in-person care to telehealth, reduction in frequency of toxicology testing and psychosocial/counseling services, and modifications to prescription durations and take-home methadone supplies. Modifications to practice were positively received and reinforced a sense of autonomy for providers as well as enhancing the ability to provide patient-centered care. All respondents expressed support for making temporary regulatory flexibilities permanent, but differed in their implementation of the flexibilities and the extent to which they planned to modify their own practices long-term. CONCLUSION: Findings support sustaining temporary regulatory and payment changes to MOUD practice, which may have improved treatment access and allowed for more flexible, individually tailored patient care. Few negative, unintended consequences were reported by providers, but more research is needed to evaluate the patient experience with changes to practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , COVID-19 , Opioid-Related Disorders , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , Humans , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
18.
BMJ ; 373: n784, 2021 05 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1238499

ABSTRACT

Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a common, treatable chronic disease that can be effectively managed in primary care settings. Untreated OUD is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality-notably, overdose, infectious complications of injecting drug use, and profoundly diminished quality of life. Withdrawal management and medication tapers are ineffective and are associated with increased rates of relapse and death. Pharmacotherapy is the evidence based mainstay of OUD treatment, and many studies support its integration into primary care settings. Evidence is strongest for the opioid agonists buprenorphine and methadone, which randomized controlled trials have shown to decrease illicit opioid use and mortality. Discontinuation of opioid agonist therapy is associated with increased rates of relapse and mortality. Less evidence is available for the opioid antagonist extended release naltrexone, with a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials showing decreased illicit opioid use but no effect on mortality. Treating OUD in primary care settings is cost effective, improves outcomes for both OUD and other medical comorbidities, and is highly acceptable to patients. Evidence on whether behavioral interventions improve outcomes for patients receiving pharmacotherapy is mixed, with guidelines promoting voluntary engagement in psychosocial supports, including counseling. Further work is needed to promote the integration of OUD treatment into primary care and to overcome regulatory barriers to integrating methadone into primary care treatment in the US.


Subject(s)
Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Narcotic Antagonists/therapeutic use , Opiate Substitution Treatment/methods , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Primary Health Care/methods , Behavior Therapy , Combined Modality Therapy , Counseling , Crisis Intervention , Global Health , Health Status Disparities , Humans , Opioid-Related Disorders/diagnosis , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Opioid-Related Disorders/therapy , Psychiatric Rehabilitation/methods , Treatment Outcome , United States/epidemiology
20.
Curr Opin Psychiatry ; 34(4): 357-362, 2021 07 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1228583

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Opioid use is prevalent in the United Kingdom and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic it had been recognized that the safety of opioids was an important issue to be monitored by the UK medicines regulatory agency. With the emergence of COVID-19, this requirement has been even greater. This review was undertaken to determine the impact of the pandemic on safety and surveillance of opioids in the United Kingdom. RECENT FINDINGS: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the surveillance of opioids in the United Kingdom continued, although primary research was often conducted with data prior to the pandemic. Of those studies that were conducted while the pandemic was ongoing, access to opioids (or opioid substitution therapy) and the subsequent effect on patient safety was the main theme. SUMMARY: In the United Kingdom, changes in accessibility to the healthcare system and how healthcare providers operated during the COVID-19 pandemic may have had unintended consequences on use and safety of opioids, due to the shift in focus to preventing COVID-19 from overwhelming the healthcare system. The findings from this review support the need to continue surveillance in the United Kingdom, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on opioid utilization and safety.


Subject(s)
Analgesics, Opioid/administration & dosage , COVID-19/prevention & control , Drug Misuse/prevention & control , Opiate Substitution Treatment/methods , Opioid-Related Disorders/prevention & control , Analgesics, Opioid/adverse effects , Health Services Accessibility , Humans , Opioid-Related Disorders/therapy , Palliative Care/methods , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Terminal Care/methods , United Kingdom/epidemiology
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