Compliance with buprenorphine medication-assisted treatment and relapse to opioid use

Am J Addict. 2012 Jan-Feb;21(1):55-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1521-0391.2011.00186.x. Epub 2011 Nov 18.


Opioid dependence (OD), often characterized as a chronic relapsing disorder, affects millions of people worldwide. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of compliance with buprenorphine on reducing relapse among a sample of patients in treatment for OD. Patients new to buprenorphine (N = 703) completed the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) at baseline, and at 1, 2, and 3 months postbaseline. The ASI is a semistructured interview designed to measure problem severity in seven functional areas known to be affected by alcohol and drug dependence. Compliance was defined as taking buprenorphine medication on at least 22 of the past 28 days (80%), while relapse classification was based on resumed use of opioids during the follow-up period (months 2 and 3). Relapse was regressed onto demographic indicators, baseline ASI composite scores, and compliance with buprenorphine. Noncompliant patients were over 10 times more likely to relapse than those who were compliant (exp β= 10.55; p < .001). Neither demographics nor baseline ASI composite scores were predictive of relapse (p's > .05). Compliance with medication-assisted treatment supports abstinence, essential for patient recovery. Understanding the factors that drive treatment compliance and noncompliance may assist providers in supporting patient compliance and recovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment* / methods
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment* / psychology
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment* / statistics & numerical data
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Compliance* / psychology
  • Patient Compliance* / statistics & numerical data
  • Secondary Prevention*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Buprenorphine