Some opioid treatment clinics slacking on social distancing

Though the federal government is now allowing certain people receiving addiction treatment to take medications home for extended periods, compliance with the new rules have been spotty, resulting in crowds and long lines at some treatment clinics in the country, STAT reports.

A few weeks ago, the government released new rules that allow people receiving addiction treatment who are considered "stable" to take home up to a 28-day supply of methadone, a treatment for addiction to prescription medications and heroin. People considered "less than stable" can take home a 14-day supply of the medication. The new rules aimed to allow people to adhere to social-distancing guidelines while receiving the medication they need.

But Zachary Talbott, president of the National Alliance for Medicated Assisted Recovery, said that the advocacy group has received complaints from clinics and methadone patients from several states that the rules are not being followed. The advocacy group also received photos and videos show lines of people breaking social-distancing rules, standing close together, while waiting to pick up their medication.

A letter, sent April 8 to Mark Parrino, president of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, and obtained by STAT, lists more instances of non-compliance. In eight states, there are clinics requiring people who should be able to take the medication home, per the new rules, to come in. Other clinics are continuing in-person group counseling sessions, even for those with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

But most of the opioid treatment programs and clinics in the country are doing a good job enforcing social distancing, but also ensuring people get access to their medications, Mr. Talbott told STAT.

Clinics in New York City have been successful at adhering to social distancing guidelines and are allowing patients to take home greater supplies of methadone — but instead of jumping from a daily supply to two weeks, they are starting with allowing patients to take home a two-to-three day supply and increasing it from there, STAT reports.

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