CTN-0003: Suboxone (Buprenorphine / Naloxone) Taper: A Comparison of Taper Schedules

Walter Ling, MD
Lead Investigator

Integrated Substance Abuse Programs
University of California Los Angeles

This study was undertaken to compare, in an outpatient setting, the relative advantage of two Suboxone® (Bup/Nx) tapering schedules (one rapid and one gradual) following four weeks of Suboxone® stabilization, as reflected by the proportion of participants providing opiate free urines at the end of the taper regimen.  In total, 516 participants were randomized to one of two taper schedules, either 7 days or 28 days.  The reason for conducting this study was not to advocate for short-term treatment, but to determine the relative ease of using a more rapid vs. a gradual taper should someone need to discontinue Bup/Nx.

Primary Findings

There appears to be no advantage in prolonging the duration of the taper for individuals terminating Bup/Nx therapy for opioid dependence.  At the end of the taper, 44% of the 7-day taper group (n=255) provided opioid-free urine specimens compared to 30% of the 28-day taper group (n=261; P=0.0007).  There were no differences at the 1-month and 3-month follow-ups (7-day=18% and 12%; 28-day = 18% and 13%, 1 month and 3 months, respectively).

Primary Outcomes Article: Ling W, et al. Buprenorphine tapering schedule and illicit opioid use. Addiction 2009;104:256-265. [get article]

    Node Involvement

    Lead Node(s):

  • New England Consortium
  • Pacific Region Node

  • All Participating Nodes:

  • New England Consortium
  • New York Node
  • North Carolina Node
  • Pacific Northwest Node
  • Pacific Region Node
  • Rocky Mountain Regional Node
  • Western States Node