Buprenorphine Versus Methadone in the Treatment of Opioid Dependence: Self-Reports, Urinalysis and Addiction Severity Index

Eric C. Strain, Maxine L. Stitzer, Ira A. Liebson, George E. Bigelow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


This article reports results for patients who completed the 16-week maintenance phase of a double-blind clinical trial comparing buprenorphine (N = 43; average dose = 9.0 mg/day sublingually) with methadone (N = 43; average dose = 54 mg/day orally) in the outpatient treatment of opioid dependence. In addition to pharmacotherapy, treatment during the clinical trial included individual counseling, weekly group therapy, and on-site medical services. Patients in both medication groups showed significant and substantial improvements over time in areas of psychosocial functioning, as assessed by the Addiction Severity Index, rates of urinalysis tests positive for opioids, and self-reports of opioid withdrawal symptoms, illicit opioid use, and cocaine use. Buprenorphine and methadone produced very similar outcomes on the wide array of outcome measures assessed, and improvements for both groups were large and occurred rapidly after treatment entry. A trend toward continued improvement in opioid-positive urines over time was noted for the buprenorphine but not the methadone group. These results provide further evidence of the efficacy of buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid dependence and provide a characterization of the time course of effects for buprenorphine and methadone. In addition, these results demonstrate the benefits of drug abuse treatment, both for drug and alcohol use and in other areas of psychosocial functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of clinical psychopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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