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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2019 Sep 1;202:200-208. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.05.026. Epub 2019 Jul 16.

Stress, craving and mood as predictors of early dropout from opioid agonist therapy.

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Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 251 Bayview Blvd., Suite 200, Baltimore, MD, 21224, USA.
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, MD, 21224, USA.
Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, 10032, USA.
Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 251 Bayview Blvd., Suite 200, Baltimore, MD, 21224, USA. Electronic address:



Treatment with opioid agonists is effective for opioid use disorder, but early discontinuation of treatment is a major obstacle to success. Intensive longitudinal methods - which take many repeated measurements over time, usually in the field- have provided unique insight into the effects of stress, mood and craving on drug use while people are being treated; these methods might also be useful for studying the processes that lead people to drop out of treatment.


Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) was conducted for up to 17 weeks by obtaining multiple electronic diary entries per day from 238 participants being treated with methadone or buprenorphine-naloxone. Survival analysis was used to study two outcomes: dropping out of treatment and noncompliance with EMA self-report requirements. Self-reports of stress, craving, and mood were used as time-varying predictors. Demographic and psychosocial variables measured with the Addiction Severity Index at the start of treatment were used as time-invariant predictors.


Dropping out of treatment was more likely in participants with more reported hassles (a measure of stress), higher levels of cocaine craving, lower levels of positive mood, a recent history of emotional abuse, a recent history of being bothered frequently by psychological problems, and with buprenorphine rather than methadone as their medication. In contrast, study noncompliance was not significantly associated with any of the variables analyzed.


Assessment of stress, craving and mood during treatment might identify people who are at greater risk of dropping out, and therapeutic interventions targeting these processes might increase retention.


Buprenorphine; Dropout; Ecological momentary assessment; Methadone; Noncompliance; Opioid use disorder

[Available on 2020-09-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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