New ASAM guideline released amid COVID-19 concerns

Home-based buprenorphine induction deemed safe for OUD


The American Society of Addiction Medicine has released an updated practice guideline for patients with opioid use disorder.

The guideline, called a focused update, advances ASAM’s 2015 National Practice Guidelines for the Treament of Opioid Use Disorder. “During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the associated need for social distancing, it is especially important that clinicians and health care providers across the country take steps to ensure that individuals with OUD can continue to receive evidence-based care,” said Paul H. Earley, MD, president of ASAM, in a press release announcing the new guideline.

The guideline specifies that home-based buprenorphine induction is safe and effective for treatment of opioid use disorder and that no individual entering the criminal justice system should be subjected to opioid withdrawal.

“The research is clear, providing methadone or buprenorphine, even without psychosocial treatment, reduces the patient’s risk of death,” said Kyle Kampman, MD, chair of the group’s Guideline Writing Committee, in the release. “Ultimately, keeping patients with the disease of addiction alive and engaged to become ready for recovery is absolutely critical in the context of the deadly overdose epidemic that has struck communities across our country.”

The society released this focused update to reflect new medications and formulations, published evidence, and clinical guidance related to treatment of OUD. This update includes the addition of 13 new recommendations and major revisions to 35 existing recommendations. One concern the society has is how to help patients being treated for OUD who are limited in their ability to leave their homes. Because of these same concerns, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration relaxed regulations on March 16 regarding patient eligibility for take-home medications, such as buprenorphine and methadone, which dovetails with the society’s guidance regarding home-based induction.

The update includes guidance for treating pregnant women as early as possible, continuing on to pharmacologic treatment even if the patient declines recommended psychosocial treatment, keeping naloxone kits available in correctional facilities, and more. Additional information about this update can be found on ASAM’s website.

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