Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Are Effective and Save Lives


The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report, Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Save Lives, that discusses the effectiveness of using medications for opioid use disorder (OUD).

Key findings of the report are:

  • Medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, are useful to treat OUD and save patients’ lives.
  • The longer patients continue to take medications for OUD, the better their outcomes.
  • Most patients with OUD do not receive these medications, and distribution of these medications is unequal among different population groups.  
  • Medications for OUD are effective and should be used in all care settings, including office-based, acute care, and criminal justice settings. Preventing or withholding treatment due to social circumstances is considered unethical.
  • Treatment with medications for OUD alone without additional behavioral interventions can be effective.

In addition, the report highlights some of the major barriers to the use of medications for OUD. Major barriers include:

  • Lack of understanding and stigma toward opioid addiction and the use of medications for OUD;
  • Insufficient education among health care and criminal justice workers who work with people with OUD;
  • Policies and regulations that limit and restrict the use of these medications in certain settings without evidence-based justification; and
  • Lack of medical attention and financial assistance for people with OUD.

Other reports released by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine related to OUD include: