New strategies are needed to increase the use of medications for treating opioid use disorder (OUD) in people of color, according to a report in Health Affairs.
Buprenorphine and methadone are highly effective in treating OUD, yet these medications are extremely underused in the United States. White populations are more likely to receive buprenorphine, while people of color are more likely to receive methadone, the report notes. Methadone is highly stigmatized and has a more burdensome treatment regimen, according to the report.
“Buprenorphine treatment is largely unavailable to people of color — the very people who could most benefit from its lower stigma,” the report states.
The report makes a number of policy recommendations, including expanding Medicaid in all states; providing grants to expand buprenorphine treatment; expanding access to practitioners in communities of color and making methadone treatment more flexible and convenient.
“A multifaceted approach is needed to address racial and ethnic disparities in treatment and retention with medication for OUD,” the report states. “The Biden administration’s stated commitment to advancing racial equity is an important first step toward pursuing policies to reduce disparities in treatment with medication for OUD.”