Explainers Harm Reduction

How Red Tape Limits Access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder


Stacey McKenna
Resident Senior Fellow, Integrated Harm Reduction

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Opioids were involved in more than 80,000 deaths in the United States in 2021, and between 3 million and 7.6 million Americans are living with or have had an opioid use disorder (OUD). Although medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) is currently considered the gold-standard treatment, access remains limited. Research indicates that only about one in four people living with an OUD receive targeted, medication-based treatment. While many barriers to such treatment exist, ranging from the social stigma of drug use to limited geographic availability, overly strict regulation plays a key role in limiting access and presents an area for intervention.

Read the full study here.