U-M researchers studied how opioid use disorder medications such as buprenorphine, methadone and extended-release naltrexone are prescribed to Medicaid patients following emergency department (ED) visits for opioid overdose. The team examined treatment initiation rates within 30 days of the ED visit and detailed which regions of the country are most and least likely to prescribe these medications. The study is based on Medicaid data from patients 12- to 64- years old who were treated in U.S. EDs for opioid overdose in 2018.

Key highlights:

  • 1 in 6 ED visits for opioid overdose resulted in a prescription for buprenorphine, methadone or extended-release naltrexone within 30 days of discharge.
  • 17% of ED visits for opioid overdose nation-wide resulted in a prescription for opioid use disorder medications. Eight states, seven of them in the Northeast, initiated treatment at relatively high rates, between 20-34%. Rates in the Midwest, South, and West were low.
  • A variety of barriers contribute to low rates of treatment initiation, including an inadequate number of professionals offering treatment in the community, gaps in OUD medication training and resources for health providers, and effective referral systems for addiction care between EDs and outpatient treatment facilities.

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