Prescription opioid dependence affects 1.9 million in the U.S, with a 400% increase in treatment admissions in recent years, and more than 15,500 fatal overdoses a year. Buprenorphine/naloxone (BUP/NX) is an effective treatment for prescription opioid dependence, with longer adherence to the medication leading to a lower risk of opioid relapse. Yet adherence can be low, and behavioral services remain a critical part of treatment. This study addresses gaps in knowledge about the behavioral services needed to optimize BUP/NX adherence and substance use (SU) outcomes in the treatment of prescription opioid dependence. We propose a randomized trial of two group-based models of care for BUP/NX patients in SU specialty treatment: Standard Medical Management (SMM) and Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOT). There is little evidence on what level of behavioral services can support BUP/NX adherence and improve outcomes, particularly for complex patients with medical and psychiatric comorbidities who present to specialty treatment. The proposed study addresses these important issues, responding to PA-12-237, Health Services and Economic Research on the Prevention and Treatment of Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Abuse (R01). The setting is a large outpatient SU specialty treatment program, where these models of care have not been empirically tested with BUP/NX patients, and where a high prevalence of patients with co-occurring psychiatric and medical comorbidities are treated. SSM includes brief weekly group-based visits consistent with previously studied medical models, and is drawn from primary care BUP/NX research. IOT is a predominant model of care in specialty treatment, and incorporates psychosocial support, 12-step, educational and relapse-prevention based approaches. We will recruit 600 adult patients inducted onto BUP/NX, randomize them to either SMM or IOT, and conduct telephone follow-up interviews at 6 and 12 months. We will examine the impact of these treatment approaches on 90-day BUP/NX adherence, opioid abstinence and reductions in use, other SU, quality of life, and health care and societal costs. Further, we will examine whether the effect of IOT versus SMM on adherence and SU treatment outcomes is greater for those with medical or psychiatric comorbidities. Our innovative approach includes a focus on complex patients with psychiatric and medical comorbidities in specialty care, adapting a care model previously only tested in primary care, a 12-month follow-up, no research-forced medication taper, an examination of health care and societal costs, and a combination of patient self-report and electronic medical record data Through this approach, the proposed study will yield critically important findings on how best to treat complex prescription opioid dependent patients, a growing patient population, with an integrative behavioral services and medication treatment model in SU treatment.

Public Health Relevance

Prescription opioid dependence affects 1.9 million in the U.S, with a 400% increase in treatment admissions in recent years, and more than 15,500 fatal overdoses a year. Buprenorphine medication can effectively treat opioid dependence, but sustained adherence is low. This randomized trial in specialty substance use treatment, where complex patients with co-occurring disorders are prevalent, will test an intensive behavioral substance use service intervention (versus medication management) with the potential to improve buprenorphine adherence and lead to abstinence, improved quality of life and health, and lower costs to health systems and society.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Duffy, Sarah Q
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Kaiser Foundation Research Institute
United States
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Campbell, Cynthia I; Parthasarathy, Sujaya; Young-Wolff, Kelly C et al. (2017) Buprenorphine Treatment and Patient Use of Health Services after the Affordable Care Act in an Integrated Health Care System. J Psychoactive Drugs 49:160-168