ASAM Guidance on OUD and Alcohol Withdrawal

Posted Mar 23, 2020

The American Society of Addiction Medicine has updated its National Practice Guideline for Treating Opioid Use Disorder and has prepared a draft Guideline on Alcohol Withdrawal Management. Both documents address concerns relevant in the time of COVID-19. 

Opioid Use Disorder – This focused update is critical in the context of the COVID-19 emergency, which threatens to curtail patient access to evidence-based treatment. It includes major revisions to 35 existing recommendations plus 13 new recommendations. This is the first set of guidelines to address all FDA-approved medications for treating OUD and opioid withdrawal, including all buprenorphine formulations, in a single document, and supports access to all of these medications in the criminal justice system. The guideline suggests that regulatory flexibility is needed to expand access to care and that expanding the use of telemedicine may be appropriate.

Alcohol Withdrawal – This guideline is intended to aid clinicians in their clinical decision making and management of patients experiencing alcohol withdrawal syndrome. As part of their efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, some states are closing all liquor stores and some programs are not accepting new treatment or withdrawal management admissions. These efforts, as well as recommended or required quarantines, will put some people at risk for alcohol withdrawal syndrome. At its most severe alcohol withdrawal can cause seizures, delirium, and even death. Although copy editing of the clinical guidelines has not yet been completed, ASAM has release a draft.