ASAM releases opioid treatment guidelines during COVID-19 outbreak

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has released treatment guidelines for clinicians dealing with opioid use disorder amid the current COVID-19 outbreak.

ASAM said it’s imperative that those working with opioid-addicted individuals be able to not only treat them but ensure their access to necessary medication.

“As the leader in addiction medicine practice guidelines and resources, ASAM continually monitors new scientific advancements and understandings of OUD—as well as the latest evidence-based treatment approaches––so that we can empower decision-makers to care for the estimated 2 million Americans living with the disease,” ASAM President Paul H. Earley said. “During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the associated need for social distancing, it is especially important that clinicians and healthcare providers across the country take steps to ensure that individuals with OUD can continue to receive evidence-based care.”

The new guidelines point to making sure those with opioid use disorder (OUD) have access to medication-based treatment, through methadone or buprenorphine, first to keep individuals alive is key to helping them get over their addiction.

“With today’s updated National Practice Guideline, we hope to empower clinicians and policymakers to adopt the best practices and latest advancements in evidence-based care for opioid use disorder,” said Kyle Kampman, MD, FASAM, Chair of the Guideline Writing Committee. “The research is clear, providing methadone or buprenorphine, even without psychosocial treatment, reduces the patient’s risk of death. Ultimately, keeping patients with the disease of addiction alive and engaged to become ready for recovery is absolutely critical in the context of the deadly overdose epidemic that has struck communities across our country. This guideline is designed to do just that.”

ASAM did, however, point out that new regulations may need to change in order to get treatment to those with OUD while the world deals with the coronavirus or COVID-19. It suggested lawmakers and stakeholders may need to consider easing regulations to allow for a patient who may be under isolation or quarantine to access help through telemedicine or to allow for putting them on medication-based treatment without first being giving psychosocial treatment.

The new guidelines also support access to medicine-based treatment for those who are incarcerated, as well as allowing health care providers in hospital emergency departments or urgent care setting to be able to use buprenorphine.

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