The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) applauds provisions included in the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 117-328) that will significantly expand access to medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD). The act, signed into law by President Biden on Dec. 29, 2022, amended the Controlled Substances Act to eliminate the requirement for qualified practitioners to first obtain a special waiver to prescribe medications such as buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). This ends a decades-long requirement, originally put in place through the Drug Abuse Treatment Act (DATA) of 2000. With the new law, the patient limits associated with this special waiver also no longer apply.
The removal of the federal requirement for practitioners to obtain a waiver will make it easier for qualified practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine, builds on the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Overdose Prevention Strategy, and delivers on the call to action in President Biden’s Unity Agenda to address the overdose and addiction crisis.
SAMHSA is committed to addressing the overdose epidemic through the provision of person-centered and evidence-based care. With the elimination of the special waiver, SAMHSA strongly encourages all eligible practitioners, as permissible under state law, to screen each patient for OUD and offer access to buprenorphine.
Additionally, all persons who obtain or renew a controlled substances license from the DEA will be required to receive eight hours of training on SUD, with certain exceptions. Given the urgency of the nation’s overdose crisis, the importance of having medical professionals equipped with such training cannot be overstated.
SAMHSA’s 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimates that 9.2 million people 12 and older misused opioids in the past year. Overdose deaths remain a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Provisional data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate there were an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 2021, an increase of nearly 15 percent from the 93,655 deaths estimated in 2020.
Anyone in the United States seeking treatment for substance use issues should call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357) or visit findtreatment.gov. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.
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