Within-subject evaluation of interim buprenorphine treatment during waitlist delays

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2021 Mar 1:220:108532. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.108532. Epub 2021 Jan 20.


Background: The effectiveness of opioid agonist treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) is well established, and delays to treatment are still common, particularly in rural geographic areas. In a randomized 12-week pilot study, we demonstrated initial efficacy of a technology-assisted Interim Buprenorphine Treatment (IBT) vs. continued waitlist control (WLC) for reducing illicit opioid use and other risk behaviors during waitlist delays. Upon completion of that parent trial, WLC participants were given the opportunity to receive 12 weeks of IBT, permitting an additional within-subject examination of IBT effects.

Methods: Sixteen WLC participants crossed over to receive IBT, involving buprenorphine maintenance with bi-monthly visits, medication administration at home via a computerized device, daily monitoring calls using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) phone system, and IVR-generated random call-backs. Biochemically-verified illicit opioid abstinence, changes in psychosocial functioning, and HIV + HCV knowledge were examined among participants originally randomized to the WLC phase and who subsequently crossed over to IBT (IBTc).

Results: Participants submitted a higher percentage of illicit opioid negative specimens at Weeks 4, 8, and 12 during IBT (75 %, 63 %, and 50 %) vs. WLC (0%, 0%, and 0%), respectively (p's<.01). Participants also demonstrated improvements in anxiety, depression, and HIV and HCV knowledge (p's<.01). Medication administration, daily IVR call and random call-back adherence and treatment satisfaction were also favorable.

Conclusions: This within-subject evaluation provides additional support for interim buprenorphine's efficacy in reducing illicit opioid use and improving health outcomes during waitlist delays for more comprehensive treatment.

Keywords: Anxiety; Buprenorphine; Depression; HIV; Hepatitis; Interim treatment; Opioid agonist treatment; Opioid use disorder.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment / methods
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment / psychology*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk-Taking
  • Waiting Lists
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Buprenorphine