Methadone Is an Effective Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

But stringent federal and state regulations keep patients from accessing evidence-based care

A nurse fills bottles with small amounts of liquid methadone for take-home prescriptions at a clinic in the Community Health Center in Akron, Ohio, Dec. 18, 2017.
TY WRIGHT/The New York Times/Red

Despite decades of research establishing methadone as a safe and effective treatment for opioid use disorder, opioid treatment programs (OTPs) remain the only health care facilities allowed to offer this medication.

But these facilities are heavily regulated at the federal level by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and many states have placed additional regulations on OTPs, dictating where they can operate and the ways people receive care. Combined, these federal and state regulations prevent many people, particularly individuals in marginalized communities, from accessing evidence-based treatment.

Federal and state policymakers should consider measures that bolster methadone access. Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative is exploring strategies for doing so.


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A man receives three bottles of diluted methadone syrup to take home at Ar-Rahman's mosque, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on February 16, 2012. (Rahman Roslan/The New York Times)
A man receives three bottles of diluted methadone syrup to take home at Ar-Rahman's mosque, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on February 16, 2012. (Rahman Roslan/The New York Times)

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