Enhanced Retention in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Linked to Higher Buprenorphine Dosages – National Institutes of Health (.gov)

Title: Study Suggests Higher Buprenorphine Doses Improve Treatment Retention for Opioid Use Disorder

In a recent study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), researchers at Brown University, NIDA, and the Rhode Island Department of Health have discovered a potential breakthrough in the treatment of opioid use disorder. The study, which examined patient data from Rhode Island between 2016 and 2020, found that higher doses of buprenorphine were associated with improved retention in treatment.

Buprenorphine is a medication commonly used to treat opioid addiction. It works by binding to the same receptors in the brain that opioids do, but with a milder effect. The current dosing guidelines for buprenorphine, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, recommend a target daily dose of 16 milligrams. However, this new study suggests that higher doses, up to 24 milligrams, may be more effective in improving treatment retention.

The study found that patients who received a lower dose of buprenorphine were 20% more likely to discontinue treatment compared to those who received a higher dose. These findings highlight the need to reevaluate treatment recommendations for opioid addiction, especially in light of the current fentanyl crisis.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is approximately 50 times stronger than heroin, has led to a significant increase in overdose deaths. In 2021 alone, nearly 107,000 reported overdose deaths occurred, with over 70,000 primarily due to fentanyl. These alarming statistics underscore the urgency of finding more effective ways to treat opioid addiction.

The researchers behind the study plan to conduct a prospective randomized clinical trial to further investigate the impact of higher buprenorphine doses on treatment retention and reducing the risk of overdose and death. If the results of this trial align with the initial findings, it could potentially lead to updates in opioid use disorder treatment standards.

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For those seeking substance and mental health treatment programs, the National Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) and the website www.FindTreatment.gov are valuable resources. These platforms provide individuals with information and access to resources that can help them seek the assistance they need.

With opioid addiction continuing to pose a significant public health concern, studies like this provide hope for improved treatment outcomes and reduced risks of overdose. The findings from this study may mark a turning point in the battle against opioid use disorder, offering new strategies to combat addiction and save lives.

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