Opioid use disorder

HPP has worked with stakeholders from across Europe to develop a call to action on improving access to best-practice treatment and care for opioid use disorder.

white haired man sitting on a bench looking out to a lake and trees


Opioid use disorder is a chronic, relapsing health condition and an urgent public health challenge. In 2020, around 1 million people in the European Union reported high-risk use of opioids, largely heroin, contributing to 4,300 overdose deaths.

Comprehensive and individualised approaches to treatment and care can allow people with opioid use disorder to better manage their condition. A combination of medication and psychosocial care is recognised as a best-practice approach to reducing the risk of overdose among people with opioid use disorder, as well as improving their overall health, psychological and social outcomes. Effective treatment and care for opioid use disorder can also be cost-effective and even cost-saving.

Despite the benefits, only half of people living with opioid use disorder in Europe are being treated. Furthermore, even when, in theory, people with opioid use disorder could access treatment and care, unacceptable policy and systemic barriers can prevent them from doing so.

What we’ve achieved

HPP worked with a multidisciplinary group of experts from across Europe to develop a call to action. The call to action sets out the importance of addressing gaps in treatment and care for people with opioid use disorder; the key policy and systemic barriers preventing people from accessing best-practice treatment and care and a set of specific policy recommendations to overcome these barriers.

Key partners and stakeholders

We are grateful to the following national experts who provided valuable insights on the situation in their respective countries:

  •  Maurice Cabanis, Medical Director, Specialist in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Klinikum Stuttgart, Germany
  • Albert Caporossi, Administrator, France Patients Experts Addictions, France
  • Martin Degenhardt, Political Expert, Bavarian Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KVB), Germany
  • Charlotte Gedeon, Specialist in psychiatry, Medical Director at Solstenen Addiction Centres (Solstenen), Sweden
  • Benjamin Laub, Specialist for Strategic Supply Structures and Security, Bavarian Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KVB), Germany
  • John Marsden, Professor of Addiction Psychology at the Addictions Department, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, UK
  • Cristina Meneguzzi, Medical Director, Department of Addictions and Mental Health (Azienda Sanitaria Friuli Occidentale, ASFO), Italy
  • Petter Odmark, Business Area Manager, Health Reform Society, Sweden
  • Dirk Schaeffer, Team leader, Advisor for Drugs, Prison, Junkie Ehemalige Substituierte (JES) (Deutsche Aidshilfe/JES), Germany
  • Mirka Vainikka, Executive Director at Irti Huumeista Ry, Finland
  • Annemarie Ward, Chief Executive Officer at Faces & Voices of Recovery UK (Favor UK), UK

Project funding

HPP was commissioned by Indivior, who initiated and funded the project. HPP led project management, research, stakeholder interviews and drafting of the report. Indivior reviewed all content. All stakeholders interviewed reviewed the full report; they were not paid for their time.