For Young Adults, Longer Use of Suboxone Proves More Effective

A Suboxone study that was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates that for young adults, longer-term therapy with Suboxone works better than very brief Suboxone consumption during detox.

  • Researchers examined the effects of Suboxone on 154 patients (ages 15 to 21) who had an average length of opiate abuse of 1.5 years.
  • Each patient received 12 weeks of addiction treatment counseling.
  • Half of the patients received two weeks of Suboxone for detoxification, and half received 12 weeks of Suboxone, which was gradually tapered down beginning in week nine.

The researchers tested the study subjects for opiate use frequently throughout the course of the 12 week study, and for an additional year thereafter.

Patients who were given Suboxone for 12 weeks showed substantially less opiate use during weeks four and eight (but not at week 12) than did the group who received the two-week Suboxone detox. Continuing urine testing over the next year showed that Suboxone treatment lowered opiate use for patients in both groups, but that patients given Suboxone for 12 weeks had better outcomes.

The findings of this young adult study match the findings of studies done on Suboxone use for older adults.

The study's lead researcher, George Woody, M.D., of VA Medical Center in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, said that the benefits of extended treatment with Suboxone as compared to briefer protocols are less use of illicit opiates, better treatment retention, and less injection drug use.

Geetha Subramaniam, M.D., of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, who oversaw the treatment of some of the patients in the study, reported that the young adults responded well to Suboxone and rarely complained about sedation (which has been cited as a problem by individuals who are treated with methadone).

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