CMS Study Shows Helpful Interventions to Avoid Repeated Drug Overdoses

June 24, 2024
People who overdose once and then receive methadone, buprenorphine, or behavioral health assessment or crisis services are less likely to suffer a subsequent overdose.

A new study conducted by several federal agencies found that “among a cohort of 137,000 Medicare beneficiaries who experienced a nonfatal overdose in 2020, almost 24,000 (17.4%) experienced a subsequent nonfatal overdose, and about 1,300 (1%) died from overdose in the following year.” CMS's website has the release.

Miriam E. Delphin-Rittman, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and leader of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), emphasizes that “when survivors received gold-standard care such as medications for opioid use disorder and naloxone, the chances of dying from an overdose in the following year drop dramatically. In short, medications for opioid use disorder, opioid overdose reversal medications, and behavioral health supports save lives.”

The study shows that “the odds of dying from a subsequent lethal overdose decreased among cohort members who received methadone (58% lower odds), buprenorphine (52% lower odds), or behavioral health assessment or crisis services (75% lower odds). The risk of overdose mortality among those who filled a prescription for naloxone was also reduced by 30%.” However, only 4.1% of the cohort received medications for opioid use disorder, and only 6.2% filled a prescription for naloxone, “despite these being gold-standard interventions.”

These findings back up the growing body of research that states that opioid use disorder and overdose reversal medications “save lives, they are rarely incorporated into care following an overdose.”

About the Author

Matt MacKenzie | Associate Editor

Matt is Associate Editor for Healthcare Purchasing News.