Although research indicates that opioid agonist treatment (OAT) is a safe and effective treatment for opioid addiction, it is not commonly offered at residential treatment facilities, according to new research published this week in JAMA. The research team included Brendan Saloner at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and researchers at Yale University, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School.
The research team called 368 treatment facilities, posing as 27-year-old heroin users without health insurance and asking whether they could receive OAT. The results were striking.
"In this national survey of residential programs for opioid use disorder, 29% of programs offered OAT as maintenance therapy, the standard of care for opioid use disorder, while many actively discouraged use of OAT to callers. Thirty-one percent of programs offered OAT only for detoxification, which has worse outcomes compared with OAT maintenance ... Overall, these findings raise concerns about the quality of care offered by residential programs," the researchers wrote.