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Buprenorphine tapering less effective than ongoing maintenance for prescription opioid abuse

Science Spotlight

November 20, 2014

Photo of hand with pen writing on prescription pad

A recent NIDA-funded study concludes that maintenance buprenorphine therapy is more effective than tapering and discontinuation of the medication in treating prescription opioid-dependent patients in primary care settings. In this 14-week study, participants whose buprenorphine was tapered over a nine-week period of time (after six weeks of stabilization) were more likely to relapse and drop out of treatment compared to those maintained on the medication. The results suggest that buprenorphine taper should be used only when it is clinically indicated in the treatment of patients dependent on prescription opioids. Additional research is needed to help identify factors associated with successful tapering and maintenance therapy.

For a copy of the article (published online October 20), go to: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1916910.

To learn more about incorporating medications such as buprenorphine into treatment, go to:  www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/use-medications-methadone-buprenorphine

NIDA Press Office

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2014, November 20). Buprenorphine tapering less effective than ongoing maintenance for prescription opioid abuse . Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2014/11/buprenorphine-tapering-less-effective-than-ongoing-maintenance-prescription-opioid-abuse

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