Everything you need to know about medications for treating opioid use disorders: SAMHSA TIP 63

February 20, 2018

Maureen Fitzgerald
ATTC Network Coordinating Office/NIATx

Finding the most up-to-date information on how to support people with opioid use disorder (OUD) just got easier with the release of SAMHSA's  TIP 63: Medications for Opioid Use Disorder.  An expert panel of researchers, policy makers, treatment providers, and others helped to develop TIP 63. 

Research supports the use of the three FDA-approved medications—methadone, extended-release naltrexone, and buprenorphine—for treatment of OUD. As TIP 63's Executive Summary states, randomized controlled trials have shown these medications to be effective in reducing illicit opioid use and overdose deaths.  (You'll find citations to latest research throughout TIP 63.)
Patients with OUD should have access to mental health services as needed, medical care, and addiction counseling, as well as recovery support services, to supplement treatment with medication.   SAMHSA TIP 63, Executive Summary 
Source: SAMHSA TIP 63
Yet these medications remain underused in the United States. Researchers from the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) shared an analysis of SAMHSA's National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services in a recent post in the Health Affairs Blog, Where Multiple Modes of Medication-Assisted Treatment Are Available. They found that of the 12,029 U.S. treatment facilities:

  • 41% of treatment facilities offer only one of the medications
  • 23% offer two or more 
  • 2.7 % report offering all three medications
The Health Affairs blog post  includes information on geographic availability of medication-assisted treatment with a link to amfAR's interactive map, Facilities Providing Some Medication Assisted Treatment.

TIP 63: Developed by an expert panel

With TIP 63, SAMHSA provides an essential resource to treatment organizations that want to start or expand their use of medications for opioid use disorders. The TIP includes an Executive Summary followed by five sections:

Part 1: Introduction to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment, presents information on medications, their effectiveness, how they're prescribed, and barriers to their use.

Part 2: Addressing Opioid Use Disorder in General Medical Settings, covers OUD screening, assessment, treatment, and referral.

Part 3: Pharmacotherapy for Opioid Use Disorder gets into the specifics of prescribing and dispensing OUD medications.

Part 4: Partnering Addiction Treatment Counselors With Clients and Healthcare Professionals,  offers guidance on how substance use disorder counselors and other health care professionals can work together to help people with OUD.

Part 5: Resources Related to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder, includes a glossary, a resource list, and sample forms.

Download for free today 

SAMHSA Tip 63 is free, and you can download digital versions of each section or the entire document from the SAMHSA website. You can also place an order for hard copies on SAMHSA's Publications Ordering page. 

Have you started to use SAMHSA TIP 63?  What's been most useful to you in starting or expanding your use of medications for OUD?  Let us know in the comment section below. 

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