Scientists from Case Western Reserve University found methadone is the most effective drug in medication-assisted treatment for opioid-use disorder.
The research is published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment and was conducted by Krystel Tossone et al.
Since the early 2000s, the United States has seen alarming and unprecedented increases in opioid-related deaths nationwide.
In Ohio alone, the death rate from accidental opioid-related overdoses increased by 1,081% from 2000 to 2017, according to the state’s Department of Health.
Medications for opioid-use disorder are linked to lower death rates and improved quality of life for people in recovery. But scientists did not know the most commonly used medications for the disease.
In the study, the team examined those questions in hopes of improving recovery rates for what has become a national epidemic.
They analyzed data from nearly 82,000 Medicaid claims in Ohio and examined the length of time between when a person started and stopped taking each of the three common medications for OUD: methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone.
The medications in the study are used to treat OUDs for short-acting drugs such as heroin, morphine and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.
The researchers found that overwhelmingly, methadone was associated with the lowest risk of treatment discontinuation, followed by buprenorphine, then naltrexone.
Among patients on buprenorphine, after a period of time, the risk of discontinuation of treatment was similar to that of methadone.
They also found that medication-assisted treatment, coupled with behavioral health therapy such as counseling, increased success in patient retention.
The team hopes the research demonstrates the need to expand access to methadone and buprenorphine treatment, noting that medications for OUD aren’t always available in some areas.
For more information about medicine, please see recent studies about which drug can harm your liver most, and results showing this drug can give your immune system a double boost against cancer.
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