August 25, 2017
1 min read

SAMHSA: Increasing medication-assisted treatment use may indicate unmet need

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Use of methadone, buprenorphine, and extended-release injectable naltrexone increased in substance use disorder facilities from 2003 through 2015, suggesting a continuous need for these treatments, according to recent findings.

“In 2015, an estimated 2.4 million people in the United States had a past year opioid use disorder which includes heroin and prescription opioids, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone,” Cathie E. Alderks, PhD, of SAMHSA, wrote. “An effective treatment for opioid use disorder includes medication-assisted treatment, which combines behavioral therapy and medications. The FDA approved medications for use in treating opioid use disorder include methadone, buprenorphine (buprenorphine with naloxone), and naltrexone.”

Methadone may be dispensed only by Opioid Treatment Programs, regulated by SAMHSA, and physicians must receive specialized training to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid addiction.

To update trends in use of methadone, buprenorphine and extended-release injectable naltrexone, Alderks analyzed data from the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services for 2003 through 2015.

From 2003 to 2015, the number of Opioid Treatment Programs increased from approximately 1,100 to 1,500 and the number of individuals receiving methadone increased from 227,000 to more than 350,000.

The percentage of Opioid Treatment Programs dispensing buprenorphine increased from 11% in 2003 to 58% in 2015. The percentage of facilities dispensing buprenorphine without Opioid Treatment Programs increased from 5% to 21%.

Use of extended-release injectable naltrexone increased from 11% in 2011 to 23% in 2015 in Opioid Treatment Programs and from 8% to 16% in facilities without Opioid Treatment Programs.

“The dramatic increase in the number of clients receiving buprenorphine through treatment facilities is an indication of the demand for safe and effective medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder in the context of a broader treatment program,” Alderks wrote. “Furthermore, the introduction of extended-release, injectable naltrexone further increases the opportunities for those with opioid use disorder on their paths towards recovery.” – by Amanda Oldt


Alderks CE. CBHSQ report: Trends in the use of methadone, buprenorphine, and extended-release naltrexone at substance abuse treatment facilities: 2003-2015 (update). Available at: Accessed August 23, 2017.

Disclosure: Alderks reports no relevant financial disclosures.