May 8, 2024 – Despite methadone’s effectiveness, a labyrinth of state and federal rules  keeps it inaccessible to many people who desperately need it. “What kind of normal person with a job, a life and a family can line up for medication every morning, sometimes far from where they live?”

“It’s almost comical how difficult it is to get this medication and stay on it,” he said.

Yet addiction treatment in the United States is poised for change. This year, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, known as SAMHSA, made permanent a set of pandemic-era rules that loosened several restrictions, including those on take-home doses of methadone.

It’s a move that a broad consensus of academics, advocates and providers says will improve treatment access and success rates. Having the flexibility to take medication at home can mean patients can get to work or get their kids to school on time. They can deal with family emergencies and unexpected travel. And they avoid the stigma of waiting in line at a clinic.