Medication-based treatment with methadone, buprenorphine, or extended-release naltrexone is effective for opioid use disorder (OUD), saving lives and improving long-term outcomes even in the absence of other forms of treatment, according to a major new review from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The study was led by Alan Leshner, Emeritus CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the publisher of the journal Science.
The authors of the review use the term “medication-based treatment” instead of the more common “medication-assisted treatment” to align with “the committee’s conceptual framework of OUD as a chronic disorder for which medications are first-line treatments that are often an integral part of a person’s long-term treatment plan, rather than complementary or temporary aids on the path to recovery.”
That change in viewpoint has important corollaries, according to the authors, most importantly that medication should be offered to every patient who could benefit from it, and medication alone should still be considered as a useful treatment even when adjunctive treatments such as behavioral therapy are not available.
The review makes five key points:
The review is published as a Consensus Study Report of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, providing an evidence-based, peer-reviewed consensus from a committee of experts, with the aim of providing “independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation.”
The full report is available for free at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538936/
Committee on Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder. Alan I. Leshner and Michelle Mancher, Editors. Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Save Lives, a Consensus Study Report by the Committee on Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder. National Academies Press.