Relapse prevention medications in community treatment for young adults with opioid addiction

Hoa T. Vo, Erika Robbins, Meghan Westwood, Debra Lezama, Marc Fishman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the well-known effectiveness and widespread use of relapse prevention medications such as extended release naltrexone (XR-NTX) and buprenorphine for opioid addiction in adults, less is known about their use in younger populations. Methods: This was a naturalistic study using retrospective chart review of N = 56 serial admissions into a specialty community treatment program that featured the use of relapse prevention medications for young adults (19–26 years old) with opioid use disorders. Treatment outcomes over 24 weeks included retention and weekly opioid-negative urine tests. Results: Patients were of mean age 23.1, 70% male, 86% Caucasian, 82% with history of injection heroin use, and treated with either buprenorphine (77%) or XR-NTX (23%). The mean number of XR-NTX doses received was 4.1. Retention was approximately 65% at 12 weeks and 40% at 24 weeks, and rates of opioid-negative urine were 50% at 12 weeks and 39% at 24 weeks, with missing samples imputed as positive. There were no statistically significant differences in retention (t = 1.87, P =.06) or in rates of weekly opioid-negative urine tests (t = 1.96, P =.06) between medication groups, over the course of 24 weeks. The XR-NTX group had higher rates of weekly negative urine drug tests for other nonopioid substances (t = 2.83, P <.05) compared with the buprenorphine group. Males were retained in treatment longer and had higher rates of opioid-negative weeks compared with females. Conclusions: These results suggest that relapse prevention medications including both buprenorphine and XR-NTX can be effectively incorporated into standard community treatment for opioid addiction in young adults with good results. Specialty programming focused on opioid addiction in young adults may provide a promising model for further treatment development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-397
Number of pages6
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Buprenorphine
  • Vivitrol
  • community treatment
  • extended release naltrexone
  • medication-assisted therapy
  • opioid dependence
  • relapse prevention medication
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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