Methadone or Buprenorphine Increases Survival Rates September 4, 2018 0 Medication-assisted Treatment

In a study published on June 19, 2018, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Massachusetts researchers discovered methadone and buprenorphine were found to reduce future overdose deaths by 59%. Patients who receive treatment with naloxone after an overdose didn’t show any subsequent decline in overdose deaths. Read on to find out more information about the results of this groundbreaking study.

Study Results:

In general, the research team reported that all of the medications for opiate treatment were underused despite the fact they are considered the best possible method for opioid addiction treatment. In the year following the initial overdose, 30% of patients in the study received any medication, 8% were given methadone, 13% received buprenorphine, 4% took naloxone and 5% received more than one medication.

Almost half of the patients who received buprenorphine or methadone after the initial overdose had received the same treatment in the year before that overdose, compared with the 19% of patients who had been given naltrexone. Overall, 41% of patients received prescriptions for opiate analgesics and 28% for benzodiazepines. Additionally, 22% of the patients had at some point in time been through opiate detoxification before the initial overdose.

Treatment Follow-Up:

Researchers aren’t sure why naloxone had worse results than no treatment, but suboxone works better than plain methadone, buprenorphine or naloxone alone. The participants who received naloxone alone didn’t remain on it for very long, but with methadone or buprenorphine, people were able to maintain a drug-free status for approximately four to five months.

While many people wonder how long treatment needs to last in order to be effective, evidence from the study suggests that no matter how long it is, not being in treatment at all increases the risk of subsequent overdoses. In order to be successful in recovery, researchers noted medication-assisted treatment needs to be more accessible and treatment should last as long as needed to ensure long-term recovery.


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