What is it about?

The federal government allowed unprecedented regulatory flexibilities to access medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) for two reasons: 1)To assure treatment access and 2) Reduce COVID exposure while accessing treatment. We found that despite federal intent, providers did not really change treatment behaviors and when they did, they were not sustained. Patients also reported being placed at risk for COVID exposure through required daily clinic visits even when they were stable. No one experienced the federally allowed multiday dosing of 14 or 28 days for unstable or stable patients respectively.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

This is the first study of this kind conducted by people who have lived/living drug use and treatment experience. It is also one of few studies, for the exception of a national study, that demonstrated that providers generally did not implement treatment changes and patients did not (as a result) experience them. This study was also directed by a statewide, transdisciplinary group of MOUD providers, patients, harm reduction organizations, people with lived/living drug use experience and university researchers.


This article is one of only a very few documenting that nothing really did change for people on methadone and buprenorphine, and if there were changes, they were not sustained. This article documents the systemic issues facing treatment evolution and the need for increasing patient empowered treatment approaches with greater regulatory flexibility. Treatment retention rates and opioid overdose rates require us to make change and improve the treatment landscape in order to assure the health of people who are opioid dependent and want treatment.

Dr. Beth E. Meyerson
University of Arizona

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Nothing really changed: Arizona patient experience of methadone and buprenorphine access during COVID, PLoS ONE, October 2022, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0274094.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page