Medication-assisted treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: a review of an effective treatment and its potential improvement for better outcomes

Issue: 
2019
Institution: 
Union College, Schenectady, New York, United States, 12308

Opioid Use Disorder is characterized as problematic use of opioids that causes significant impairment or distress. Opioids include prescription analgesics, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and the illegal drug heroin. Opioids interact with brain receptors that are associated with pain, reward, and addiction behaviors. 2.1 million people struggle with Opioid Use Disorder in the United States according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Only 20% of these people have received specialty addiction treatment and in 2016 there were over 42,249 opioid-related deaths. Medication-Assisted Treatment is the use of FDA-approved drugs implemented with psychotherapies with the purpose to provide a personalized approach to sustained recovery, defined as illicit opioid abstinence. This combination treatment has been evidenced to positively impact patient outcomes, but is underused and limited by several issues of access. Further research involving the medications and psychotherapies used in Medication-Assisted Treatment in addition to an improvement of the treatment’s access will provide a significant impact on individual OUD patient lives as well as on our country’s public health as a whole.

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