A recent study looks at buprenorphine retention and frames young adult retention as a problem.
Emerging adults (18-25 years old) are often poorly retained in substance use disorder treatment. Office-based buprenorphine often enhances treatment retention among people with opioid dependence. In this study, we examined the records of a collaborative care buprenorphine treatment program to compare the treatment retention rates of emerging adults vs. older adults. Subjects were 294 adults, 71 (24%) aged 18-25, followed in treatment with buprenorphine, nurse care management, and an intensive outpatient program followed by weekly psychosocial treatment. Compared to older adults, emerging adults remained in treatment at a significantly lower rate at 3 months (56% vs. 78%) and 12 months (17% vs. 45%), and were significantly more likely to test positive for illicit opioids, relapse, or drop out of treatment. Further research into factors associated with buprenorphine treatment retention among emerging adults is needed to improve treatment and long-term outcomes in this group.
During the first three months of treatment, emerging adults were more likely than older adults to test positive for illicit use of opioids (p < 0.0001; OR: 2.20 [1.53-3.15]). Specifically, during month 1, 47.9% of emerging adults vs. 31.0% of older adults tested positive for illicit use of opioids, with similar group differences during Month 2 (28.3% vs. 13.3%) and Month 3 (28.6% vs. 15.4%) ( Fig. 4a).