Therapy may support drug treatment of opioid use disorder

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Newswise – According to Rutgers researchers, receiving psychosocial and behavioral therapy alongside medication for opioid use disorder leads to better engagement and continuity of treatment.

To better understand the role of psychosocial and behavioral therapy, the studypublished in the Drug Treatment Journallooked at the services people received during the first six months after starting buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid use disorder.

Researchers found that the majority of patients taking buprenorphine medications to treat opioid use disorder received little or no psychosocial and behavioral therapy, with less than 1 in 5 receiving low-intensity therapy , about twice a month, and less than 1 in 10 receiving higher intensity therapy. therapy.

In analyzes of buprenorphine use among patients who completed at least seven days of treatment, receiving treatment for opioid use disorder was associated with a lower risk of discontinuation. treatment within the first 180 days post-treatment, raising the possibility that treatment may help reduce the high attrition rates commonly seen early in treatment.

“We focused on the first 180 days of treatment because this is a particularly high-risk period for treatment discontinuation,” said Hillary Samples, study author and assistant professor in the Department of Behaviors, of Society and Health Policy from the Rutgers School of Public Health.

While fewer patients with minimal or no therapy services reached the benchmark for the minimum duration of drug therapy, a substantial proportion had 180 days or more of buprenorphine treatment, indicating that many patients persist in treatment. with medication alone.

“This finding indicates that insurance policies requiring a referral or receipt of psychosocial services

receiving buprenorphine or other drugs for the treatment of opioid use disorder may create overly restrictive barriers to highly effective drug treatment,” Samples said. “Yet efforts to ensure adequate availability of psychosocial support services are important to facilitate access for patients who could benefit from therapy, such as recent expansions in telehealth that could address current barriers to care.”

The researchers note that patterns of therapy use corresponded with indicators of need for treatment, which may signal appropriate alignment between patient characteristics and current clinical practices. Patients who received psychosocial and behavioral therapy had higher rates of concurrent mental health and substance abuse diagnoses, including cannabis and stimulant use disorders.

“Patients who have comorbid substance use disorders who lack effective medication options, such as cocaine and amphetamines, might represent a priority group for psychosocial services,” adds Samples. “Further research to understand the relationship between clinical profiles and therapy services is essential to align patient needs with evidence-based treatment to improve medication retention and patient outcomes.”

The study was the first to characterize trends in psychosocial and behavioral therapy received alongside buprenorphine in the treatment of adults with opioid use disorder.

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