October 19, 2023
A new study conducted as part of the HEALing Communities Study has found that telehealth supports retention in treatment for opioid use disorder. This is the largest addiction prevention and treatment implementation study ever conducted. It is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and carried out in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the National Institutes of Health's Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative.
The study found that starting buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder through telehealth was associated with an increased likelihood of staying in treatment longer, compared to starting treatment in a non-telehealth setting.
Nora Volkow, MD, Director of NIDA, was quoted in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) news release saying, "This study suggests that telehealth may increase treatment access and retention, strengthening the evidence that receiving addiction care through telehealth is to be safe and beneficial, and that it should be made available to those who need it . . . To quell the unprecedented loss of life from the overdose crisis, we must continue to prioritize both increasing access to treatment and providing the care and support people need to stay in treatment after they have started."