Enhanced Treatment Retention for Opioid Use Disorder with Higher Buprenorphine Doses – National Institutes of Health (.gov)

New Study Finds Higher Doses of Buprenorphine Improve Treatment Retention for Opioid Use Disorder

A recent study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has unveiled promising findings regarding the treatment of opioid use disorder. The study, conducted by researchers at Brown University, NIDA, and the Rhode Island Department of Health, analyzed data from patients prescribed buprenorphine in Rhode Island between 2016 and 2020, a period when fentanyl became widely available.

Among patients initiating buprenorphine treatment, the study found that those prescribed higher doses of the medication showed improved retention in treatment. Specifically, 53% of patients prescribed a higher dose of 24 milligrams continued treatment within 180 days, compared to 59% of those prescribed the recommended daily dose of 16 milligrams.

Buprenorphine is a medication commonly used to treat opioid use disorder. It has been shown to be effective in reducing opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, thereby supporting individuals in reducing their opioid use and preventing overdoses. However, the study’s findings suggest the need to reevaluate current treatment recommendations, as higher doses of buprenorphine may offer greater benefits in addressing the challenges posed by potent opioids like fentanyl.

In light of these findings, the researchers plan to conduct a prospective randomized clinical trial to further investigate the impact of higher doses of buprenorphine on treatment retention, overdose risk, and mortality. This study aims to provide more robust evidence on the potential benefits of higher buprenorphine doses in mitigating the effects of the ongoing fentanyl crisis.

The study underscores the importance of optimizing treatment for opioid use disorder to help individuals achieve recovery and save lives amidst the fentanyl crisis. The current dosing guidelines may not be fully equipped to address the challenges posed by this potent opioid, highlighting the need for further research and potential updating of treatment recommendations.

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For those seeking more information on substance and mental health treatment programs, the National Helpline offers free and confidential assistance. Additionally, individuals can visit www.FindTreatment.gov for resources and information.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is dedicated to supporting research on drug use and addiction. The NIH, which is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, conducts and supports research on various diseases, including addiction, to develop effective treatments and ultimately improve public health.

As the opioid crisis continues to affect communities across the nation, research and evidence-based solutions are crucial in combating this public health issue. The findings of this study offer hope for more effective treatment strategies and highlight the importance of continued efforts to address opioid use disorder and its devastating consequences.

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