University of Wisconsin–Madison

Better treatment outcomes

A growing body of research supports the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with buprenorphine as part of a comprehensive opioid use disorder treatment program.

  • The National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network Prescription Opioid Addiction Treatment Study (POATS), a multisite clinical trial, found increased rates of abstinence among participants who received buprenorphine treatment.1,2
  • Patients are less than one half as likely to relapse when treated with methadone or buprenorphine than if they receive treatment without medication.3

In addition, leading national organizations and federal agencies support the use of buprenorphine and other forms of MAT. A review of studies on buprenorphine conducted by the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the Treatment Research Institute found that:

“Relative to outpatient, abstinence-oriented drug addiction treatment, office-based outpatient treatment with buprenorphine improves six-month treatment engagement, significantly reduces cravings, illicit opioid use and mortality, and improves psychosocial outcomes.”4

SAMHSA Buprenorphine Summit

In 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) convened a meeting that brought leaders from the addiction treatment field together to discuss ways to advance the use of buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid addiction.  Recommendations that emerged from the Summit include:

  • MAT needs to be a first-option therapy for patients with opioid use disorder

For more information, see: 2014 Buprenorphine Summit, September 22-23, 2014, Report of Proceedings.

Retrospective Comparative Effectiveness Research Study

A 2018 research study of 40, 885 adults with opioid use disorder compared 6 different treatment pathways (no treatment, inpatient or residential treatment, intensive behavioral health buprenorphine or methadone, naltrexone, and non intensive behavioral health.)  Only treatment with buprenorphine or methadone was associated with reduced risk of overdose and serious opioid-related acute care use compared with no treatment during 3 and 12 months of follow-up.5



Page updated: 09/25/2020



1 Weiss, R. D., Potter, J. S., Griffin, M. L., Provost, S. E., Fitzmaurice, G. M., McDermott, K. A., … & Carroll, K. M. (2015). Long-term outcomes from the national drug abuse treatment clinical trials network prescription opioid addiction treatment study. Drug and alcohol dependence, 150, 112-119.

2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. Long-Term Follow-Up of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Addiction to Pain Relievers Yields “Cause for Optimism” Retrieved from on September 29, 2016

3 Clark, R. E., Baxter, J. D., Aweh, G., O’Connell, E., Fisher, W. H., & Barton, B. A. (2015). Risk factors for relapse and higher costs among Medicaid members with opioid dependence or abuse: opioid agonists, comorbidities, and treatment history. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 57, 75-80

4 American Society of Addiction Medicine, Treatment Research Institute. (2013). FDA-Approved Medications for the Treatment of Opiate Dependence: Literature Reviews on Effectiveness and Cost Effectiveness. Chevy Chase, MD: American Society of Addiction Medicine. Available at:

Wakeman, S. E., Larochelle, M. R., Ameli, O., Chaisson, C. E., McPheeters, J. T., Crown, W. H., … & Sanghavi, D. M. (2020). Comparative effectiveness of different treatment pathways for opioid use disorder. JAMA Network Open, 3(2), e1920622-e1920622.:

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