Predictors of buprenorphine initial outpatient maintenance and dose taper response among non-treatment-seeking heroin dependent volunteers.Drug Alcohol Depend 2015; 146:89-96DA
Buprenorphine (BUP) is effective for treating opioid use disorder. Individuals' heroin-use characteristics may predict their responses to BUP, which could differ during maintenance and dose-taper phases. If so, treatment providers could use pre-treatment characteristics to personalize level of individual care and possibly improve treatment outcomes.
Non-treatment-seeking heroin-dependent volunteers (N=34) initiated outpatient BUP maintenance (8-mg/day) and submitted urine samples thrice weekly tested for opioids (non-contingent result). After completing three programmatically-related inpatient behavioral pharmacology experiments (while maintained on 8-mg/day BUP), participants were discharged and underwent a double-blind BUP dose taper (4-mg/day, 2-mg/day and 0-mg/day during weeks 1-3, respectively) with an opioid-abstinence incentive ($30 per consecutive opioid-negative urine specimen, obtained thrice weekly).
Participants who reported less pre-study (past-month) heroin use and shorter lifetime duration of heroin use were more likely to submit an opioid-negative urine sample during initial outpatient BUP maintenance. Participants who reported more lifetime heroin-quit attempts and provided any opioid-free urine sample during initial outpatient maintenance sustained longer continuous opioid-abstinence during the BUP dose taper. Participants who reported >3 lifetime quit attempts abstained from opioid use nearly one week longer (14 days vs. 8 days to opioid-lapse) and nearly half (46.7%) refrained from opioid use during dose taper.
Number of prior heroin quit attempts may predict BUP dose taper response and provide a metric for stratifying heroin-dependent individuals by relative risk for opioid lapse. This metric may inform personalized relapse prevention care and improve treatment outcomes.