Long-term Buprenorphine/Naloxone Outcomes Promising for Prescription Opioid Users

Despite the growing prevalence of prescription opioid dependence, studies have examined only short-term treatment response, not what happens over a longer period of time.

This study examined outcomes over 42 months in the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network’s Prescription Opioid Abuse Treatment Study (POATS, CTN-0030), to see what, if any, improvements in abstinence from opioids was seen after the conclusion of the original 9-month study period.

POATS was a multi-site clinical trial examining different durations of buprenorphine-naloxone plus standard medical management for prescription opioid dependence. A subset of participants (375 of 653) enrolled in this follow-up study, agreeing to participate in telephone interviews approximately 18, 30, and 42 months after main-trial enrollment.

Results revealed significant improvements at month 42:

  • 31.7% were abstinent from opioids and not on agonist therapy;
  • 29.4% were receiving opioid agonist therapy but met no symptom criteria for current opioid dependence;
  • 7.5% were using illicit opioids while on agonist therapy;
  • 31.4% were using opioids without agonist therapy

Conclusions: This was the first study to examine long-term treatment outcomes of patients with prescription opioid dependence and results were more encouraging than short-term outcomes from POATS suggested they might be. Long-term outcomes for those dependent on prescription opioids demonstrated clear improvement from baseline, underscoring the importance of longer-term follow-up in improving understanding about the course of this increasingly prevalent substance use disorder.

Find out more at the CTN Dissemination Library: http://ctndisseminationlibrary.org/display/1132.htm

Funding for this Addiction Science Made Easy project is provided by the Addiction Technology Transfer Center National Office, under the cooperative agreement from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of SAMHSA.

Articles were written based on the following published research:

Weiss RD, et al. Long-Term Outcomes from the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trial Network Prescription Opioid Study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2015 (in press).

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