Supporting individuals using medications for opioid use disorder in recovery residences: challenges and opportunities for addressing the opioid epidemic

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2020 May 3;46(3):266-272. doi: 10.1080/00952990.2020.1719410. Epub 2020 Feb 24.


Full and partial opioid agonists and opioid antagonist medications play an important role in containing the opioid epidemic. However, these medications have not been used to their full extent. Recovery support services, such as recovery residences (RRs), also play a key role. RRs may increase an individual's recovery capital, facilitate social support for abstinence, and foster a sense of community among residents. These processes may be critical for individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD). In combination these two recovery pathways have the potential to enhance one another and improve outcomes among residents with OUD. Barriers to doing so have resulted in a limited supply of residences that can support residents using opioid agonist and antagonist medications. This perspective describes key interpersonal and structural barriers to medication use among individuals with an OUD seeking support from a recovery residence and discusses measures for reducing these barriers. These measures include workforce development to address stigma and attitudinal barriers and enhancing residence capability to ensure resident safety and reduce potential diversion. The perspective also highlights the need for additional research to facilitate the identification of best practices to improve outcomes among residents treated with medications living in recovery residences.

Keywords: Recovery; implementation; opioid agonist therapy; opioid use disorder; policy; recovery residence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Naltrexone / therapeutic use
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment / methods*
  • Opioid Epidemic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Residential Treatment*
  • Social Stigma
  • Social Support


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone