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    European Experts Say Making Methadone Easy to Obtain Leads to Treatment Success

    European experts in substance use disorder say making methadone easy to obtain is key to the continent’s success in treatment, STAT reports. The opioid death rate in Europe is about one-twentieth the rate in the United States.

    In the United States, just two medications are approved to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. Methadone can only be prescribed at opioid treatment programs, where patients must go every day to receive a single dose.

    In contrast, at Arud Centre for Addiction Medicine in Switzerland, all patients in need of substance use disorder care are given instant access to weeks’ worth of medication. They are not required to participate in counseling or undergo substance use testing. They are not punished if they relapse and use illicit substances.

    Patients at the clinic who choose methadone, slow-release morphine or buprenorphine can receive up to 30 days of medication at one time. Unlike in the U.S., methadone is available in a pill form.

    “We have access to a very broad population because it’s so easy to access our treatment center,” Philip Bruggmann, a Swiss doctor and Arud’s head of internal medicine, told STAT during a recent visit to the clinic’s headquarters in central Zurich. “This wouldn’t be possible in a system which is very restrictive, where people are getting kicked out of the program or disappearing because they can’t comply with the regulations and rules. I think we would lose a lot of patients. They would die.”


    March 2024