DEA to Streamline Registration Process for Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

DEA to Streamline Registration Process for Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

With a press release that is sure to please rural behavior health providers and those in need of treatment in underserved areas, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced today at 12:15 EST that it will be streamlining access to medication assisted treatment “especially in rural areas where those suffering with opioid use disorder may have limited treatment options.”

In a Notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register, the DEA is proposing to revise existing regulations for narcotic treatment programs (NTPs) to open the way for allowing a mobile component associated with a registered program to be allowable as “a coincident activity.” In doing so, the DEA would waive requirements for a separate registration for mobile units if they are part of a business or professional practice that is already registered to dispense controlled substances for NTPs. The purpose of the change in regulations is to allow broader access to maintenance and detoxification treatments while maintaining safeguards that keep people out of the criminal justice system.

The issues of opioid use disorder, medication-assisted treatment, and how to achieve parity in rural treatment have been topics of numerous Catalyst blog posts, and include the following articles in our archive:

Although progress has been made in all of these areas, including a 13 percent reduction in prescription opioid overdose deaths in the United States cited by the DEA in its press release, this important step promises to help states and communities overcome at least one of the issues that have arisen with the success of strategies to deal with the opioid crisis. Other issues that have come to the surface as ongoing efforts continue still need attention. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is focusing on five priority areas:

  • improving access to treatment and recovery services
  • promoting use of overdose-reversing drugs
  • strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance
  • providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction
  • advancing better practices for pain management

As many people have noticed, the success of efforts to address the opioid crisis has led to some new challenges such as rising suicide rates as pain treatment options are reduced and the need for alternative pain management practices (Gross & Gordon, 2019). In our recent blog post 7 Things You Should Know About Naloxone in Nevada, one reader commented that administering naloxone is great, but people still need to be trained in breathing/CPR in case it isn’t available. Another comment shared that since introducing it as an option in Nevada the cost of Naloxone has risen from about $20.00 to over $50.00 and even $62.00 in the Las Vegas area. The proposed DEA regulations changes are progress and constitute a step towards success in tackling the opioid crisis.

Public Comments Are Being Solicited

The proposed regulations are not effective immediately. Prior to the changes the DEA is soliciting both electronic and paper public comments. The instructions for comment submission are very specific and require inclusion of the Public Register Docket Number and special formatting if a person wishes to maintain privacy in light of the fact that comments become subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Complete instructions are included online in the Federal Register entry.

Look for more information in the CASAT OnDemand Resources & Downloads section and Learning Labs. For information and to register for professional development opportunities, visit CASAT Training online.

What challenges have arisen for you or your clients during the opioid crisis? Share your experiences in the Comments below!



Gross, J., & Gordon, D. (2019;2018;). The strengths and weaknesses of current US policy to address pain. American Journal of Public Health, 109(1), 66-72. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2018.304746

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