DOI: 10.1177/29767342231223721 ISSN: 2976-7342

A Systematic Review of State Office-Based Buprenorphine Treatment Laws Effective During 2022: Counseling, Dosage, and Visit Frequency Requirements

Barbara Andraka-Christou, Olivia K. Golan, Michelle Williams, Scott Buksbaum, Adam J. Gordon, Bradley D. Stein


Buprenorphine is among the most effective treatments for opioid use disorder. Even though the federal government recently eliminated the waiver requirement and patient limits applicable to office-based buprenorphine treatment (OBBT), among other settings, some states may still have policies imposing requirements on OBBT providers not required by federal law.


We collected statutes and regulations from 50 US states and the District of Columbia (ie, 51 jurisdictions) between August 11 and November 30, 2022 using the Nexis Uni legal database and search terms related to OBBT counseling, dosage, and/or frequency of visits. We then used template analysis, a mixed deductive-inductive qualitative method, to analyze legal content.


Ten jurisdictions (20%) in 2022 had an OBBT counseling, dosage, and/or visit frequency requirement. Four jurisdictions had at least one law in each OBBT policy category examined. One-fifth of jurisdictions have OBBT policies not required under federal law. Five of these jurisdictions are among those with the highest overdose death rates per capita, according to publicly available data from 2021. Some OBBT requirements could potentially limit clinician interest in offering buprenorphine treatment or result in inadequate care (eg, if dosage limitations are too low.)


Even though a federal waiver is no longer required for OBBT, our results suggests that at least some jurisdictions have other OBBT requirements, such as counseling, dosage, and/or frequency requirements. Given the severity of the ongoing opioid overdose crisis, policymakers should carefully consider the extent to which OBBT requirements are evidence based.