Use of Medication for Opioid Use Disorder among US Adolescents and Adults with Need for Opioid Treatment, 2019

Pia M. Mauro, Sarah Gutkind, Erin M. Annunziato, Hillary Samples

Publication Date: 03/23/2022

Importance: Medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) is the criterion standard treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD), but nationally representative studies of MOUD use in the US are lacking. Objective: To estimate MOUD use rates and identify associations between MOUD and individual characteristics among people who may have needed treatment for OUD. Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional, nationally representative study using the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the US. Participants included community-based, noninstitutionalized adolescent and adult respondents identified as individuals who may benefit from MOUD, defined as (1) meeting criteria for a past-year OUD, (2) reporting past-year MOUD use, or (3) receiving past-year specialty treatment for opioid use in the last or current treatment episode. Main Outcomes and Measures: The main outcomes were treatment with MOUD compared with non-MOUD services and no treatment. Associations with sociodemographic characteristics (eg, age, race and ethnicity, sex, income, and urbanicity); substance use disorders; and past-year health care or criminal legal system contacts were analyzed. Multinomial logistic regression was used to compare characteristics of people receiving MOUD with those receiving non-MOUD services or no treatment. Models accounted for predisposing, enabling, and need characteristics. Results: In the weighted sample of 2206169 people who may have needed OUD treatment (55.5% male; 8.0% Hispanic; 9.9% non-Hispanic Black; 74.6% non-Hispanic White; and 7.5% categorized as non-Hispanic other, with other including 2.7% Asian, 0.9% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 3.8% multiracial), 55.1% were aged 35 years or older, 53.7% were publicly insured, 52.2% lived in a large metropolitan area, 56.8% had past-year prescription OUD, and 80.0% had 1 or more co-occurring substance use disorders (percentages are weighted). Only 27.8% of people needing OUD treatment received MOUD in the past year. Notably, no adolescents (aged 12-17 years) and only 13.2% of adults 50 years and older reported past-year MOUD use. Among adults, the likelihood of past-year MOUD receipt vs no treatment was lower for people aged 50 years and older vs 18 to 25 years (adjusted relative risk ratio [aRRR], 0.14; 95% CI, 0.05-0.41) or with middle or higher income (eg, $50000-$74 999 vs $0-$19999; aRRR, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.07-0.44). Compared with receiving non-MOUD services, receipt of MOUD was more likely among adults with at least some college (vs high school or less; aRRR, 2.94; 95% CI, 1.33-6.51) and less likely in small metropolitan areas (vs large metropolitan areas, aRRR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.19-0.93). While contacts with the health care system (85.0%) and criminal legal system (60.5%) were common, most people encountering these systems did not report receiving MOUD (29.5% and 39.1%, respectively). Conclusions and Relevance: In this cross-sectional study, MOUD uptake was low among people who could have benefited from treatment, especially adolescents and older adults. The high prevalence of health care and criminal legal system contacts suggests that there are critical gaps in care delivery or linkage and that cross-system integrated interventions are warranted.