Implantable Medication May Increase Odds of Successful Addiction Treatment

By Staff Writer

The medication buprenorphine is becoming an increasingly popular substance abuse treatment option for individuals who are addicted to opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers. However, care providers have noticed that misuse and abuse of the medication is common when it is administered in traditional forms.

In an effort to help more addicts access the full benefit of the medicine while limiting its abuse, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles recently developed an implantable formulation that can deliver a constant low level of buprenorphine.

Researchers found that more than 40 percent of opioid addicts who had buprenorphine implanted under their skin remained drug-free for the entire 16 week study period. Conversely, less than 30 percent of addicts who were given a placebo stayed away from drugs.

Additionally, significantly more addicts who received the implant stuck with their substance abuse treatment program to completion, and none met the definition of treatment failure. More than 30 percent of participants in the placebo group were classified as treatment failures.

Walter Ling, who led the investigation, said that the findings could help clinicians improve adherence to substance abuse treatment programs and increase addicts’ odds of quitting.