Posttraumatic stress disorder in individuals seeking treatment for opioid use disorder in Vermont

Prev Med. 2021 Nov;152(Pt 2):106817. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2021.106817. Epub 2021 Sep 29.


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and opioid use disorder (OUD) may be associated with poor outcomes in rural areas where access to mental health services and opioid agonist treatment (OAT) is limited. This study examined the characteristics associated with a history of PTSD among a sample of individuals seeking buprenorphine treatment for OUD in Vermont, the second-most rural state in the US. Participants were 89 adults with OUD who participated in one of two ongoing randomized clinical trials examining the efficacy of an interim buprenorphine dosing protocol for reducing illicit opioid use during waitlist delays to OAT. Thirty-one percent of participants reported a history of PTSD. Those who did (PTSD+; n = 28) and did not (PTSD-; n = 61) report a history of PTSD were similar on sociodemographic and drug use characteristics. However, the PTSD+ group was less likely to have received prior OUD treatment compared to the PTSD- group (p = .02) despite being more likely to have a primary care physician (p = .009) and medical insurance (p = .002). PTSD+ individuals also reported greater mental health service utilization, more severe psychiatric, medical and drug use consequences, and greater pain severity and interference vs. PTSD- individuals (ps < 0.05). These findings indicate that a history of PTSD is prevalent and associated with worse outcomes among individuals seeking treatment for OUD in Vermont. Dissemination of screening measures and targeted interventions may help address the psychiatric and medical needs of rural individuals with OUD and a history of PTSD.

Keywords: Buprenorphine; Interim treatment; Opioid use disorder; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Rurality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Buprenorphine* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / drug therapy
  • Vermont


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Buprenorphine