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Opioid dependence plagues the United States with millions of people suffering from the effects. Throughout recent years, there has been a surge in research in treatment options for patients suffering from opioid dependence. Three medications have stood out: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. The purpose of this study was to investigate the three and decipher which provides the best outcomes for patients. Research was conducted by reviewing literature via PubMed, PsychInfo and Cochrane. A review of the literature found that methadone has been used the longest and has been shown to be efficacious, but can be severely limiting for patients due to lack of clinics and the need for daily dosings. As a result, buprenorphine was developed as an alternative medication with similar efficacy and retention rates to combat the daily dosages and provide a more readily available medication. Unfortunately buprenorphine also has geographical limitations. Naltrexone is the newest medication added to the mix. Orally, it has poor retention, but an extended release form has been developed that is showing promise. There are no geographical limitations associated with naltrexone and the extended release form allows for only monthly injections. Going forward with opioid treatment, medications like naltrexone and those that are more readily available will become more widely used for treatment as patient preference is pointing towards medications that are not limited by geography or frequent dosing.


Physician Assistant Studies

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

First Advisor

Russ Kauffman

Publication Date



Buprenorphine -- therapeutic use; Comparative Study; Methadone -- therapeutic use; Naltrexone -- therapeutic use; Narcotics -- therapeutic use; Opioid-Related Disorders -- drug therapy; Opiate Substitution Treatment -- methods; Treatment Outcome


Substance Abuse and Addiction

Opioid Maintenance Treatment: Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone