Study: Many rural Americans suffering from addiction don’t receive potentially life-saving medication

New research reveals many rural Americans who struggle with substance use disorder aren’t receiving medication that could help them with the disease. The study, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that less than 9% of rural Americans who suffer from opioid and alcohol addiction are prescribed medications, such as naltrexone, buprenorphine, acamprosate and disulfiram.

“The low rates of naltrexone prescription are concerning given the current evidence of the effectiveness of extended release-naltrexone in treating both disorders,” the researchers wrote. 

Researchers reviewed medical records of almost 1,900 adults who visited rural primary care providers in the Northeastern and Northwestern U.S. between October 2019 and January 2021. The patients ranged in age from 18 to 81.

“The present study reinforces the gaps in treatment for patients with OUD and/or AUD who live in rural areas and calls for a better understanding of these gaps as well as additional support for rural clinicians in providing pharmacological treatment,” the study reads.