As addiction treatment becomes increasingly integrated into the medical care system, two models have rightly received a great deal of attention. The first is the use of SBIRT models to identify cases, provide therapeutic contact, and refer the more severe cases to longer-term care. The second is the treatment of addictions using medical models of treatment, including those that can be implemented in primary care settings. Much less attention has been paid to optimizing strategies for bridging the gap between SBIRT and more intensive/longer-term treatment for those on the severe end of the spectrum. This factor is of critical importance for opioid dependent patients, whose needs are not met by brief interventions or brief treatment. Emergency room interventions for substance use disorders have been largely limited to brief interventions/SBIRT models, and these have focused primarily on alcohol. Although there is a substantial literature documenting the value of case management in linking drug users to treatment, this approach has not been applied to drug users in the ED setting. In a sample of opioid dependent patients seen in a medical ED who are not currently engaged in treatment, this study will compare the effects of brief strengths-based case management (SBCM) and those of a brief intervention with booster sessions (BIB), based on Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), to the effects of screening, assessment and referral alone (SAR). These treatment models were selected because of their evidence base and because they are feasible to implement in the ED. Participants meeting DSM-IV criteria for opioid dependence will be randomly assigned (150 per group) to receive 1) the BIB intervention including a 30-minute motivational interviewing session in the ED, followed by two 20-minute booster phone sessions; 2) up to 6 sessions of SBCM based on the model previously implemented by Rapp and colleagues in prior studies; or 3) SAR. Staffs that are blinded to treatment condition will complete follow-up assessments at 3 and 6 months.
Aims of the study are to identify the main effects of SBCM and BIB on substance abuse treatment initiation and engagement, use of opioids and other drugs, and broader measures of health and life functioning; to examine the interactions between treatment assignment and selected participant attributes in predicting treatment initiation, engagement, and substance use outcomes; and to examine effects of treatment involvement on substance use outcomes in the three treatment groups. The proposed study will be the first trial using a case management approach to link drug dependent patients presenting in EDs to longer-term addiction treatment. It will be one of the first trials focusing specifically on opioid dependent patients in medical EDs. A further innovative feature is that the case management approach will emphasize linkage to pharmacotherapy, and in particular will facilitate linkage to office-based buprenorphine for patients who desire this treatment.
Heroin and prescription opioid dependence are major public health problems. Opioid dependent people are frequently seen in medical emergency departments and would benefit from more effective linkage to evidence- based addiction treatments. This study tests whether a case management approach or a brief intervention approach can increase treatment involvement and improve clinical outcomes in opioid dependent patients seen in medical emergency departments. If effective, these interventions have the potential for wide application in emergency departments and could provide benefit to large numbers of otherwise untreated people with opioid addiction.