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New Study to Address Negative Beliefs About Treatment in Opioid Users

New Study to Address Negative Beliefs About Treatment in Opioid Users

Published: 1/26/2018

CINCINNATI—As the number of deaths attributed to drug overdoses increases across the nation, Ohio and Kentucky have two of the highest reported rates. In 2016, unintentional drug overdoses caused the deaths of 4,050 Ohio residents. Now, a clinical trial at the University of Cincinnati (UC) hopes to address one aspect in the comprehensive fight against the drug crisis: breaking down barriers to seeking medication assistant treatment.

"Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), including treatment with methadone, buprenorphine and extended-release naltrexone, has been shown to be very effective for the treatment of opioid use disorder, but these treatments are underutilized,” says Theresa Winhusen, PhD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience. Winhusen added that "misconceptions can make users reluctant to seek treatment and range from beliefs that treatment medications can ‘make you high,’ won’t allow you to work or just get you addicted to another substance, all of which are not true.” 

Individuals who have experienced an opioid overdose within the past six months may be eligible to participate in the year-long trial. The intervention being tested provides individually-tailored feedback designed to correct inaccurate, negative beliefs about MAT and increase knowledge about opioid overdose. The information is provided through both written feedback and a telephone conversation with a peer interventionist, who is someone enrolled in MAT, illicit opioid-abstinent for at least one year and who has personal experience with opioid overdose.

The intervention, titled "Tailored Telephone Intervention delivered by Peers to Prevent Recurring Opioid Overdoses (TTIP-PRO),” was developed by a team of UC clinicians and researchers, headed by Winhusen, who is also director of the department’s Addiction Sciences Division and principal investigator of the study. 

"Individuals who survive an opioid overdose are at increased risk for future overdoses—a risk that can be significantly diminished with MAT. TTIP-PRO is one of the few interventions specifically developed for individuals who have recently survived an opioid overdose,” says Winhusen. 

While the primary goal of TTIP-PRO is to increase engagement in MAT, Winhusen says it also includes a "harm reduction” component designed to increase the individual’s knowledge about opioid overdose, including his or her personal risk factors for overdose. 

In the study, volunteers will be randomly assigned to receive: 1) TTIP-PRO, which provides individually-tailored information about MAT and opioid overdose; or 2) information that is not individually tailored. 
Men and women at least 18 years old who have been treated for an opioid overdose in the past six months, are actively using illicit opioids (e.g., heroin, fentanyl, etc.), and are not currently receiving addiction treatment, may be eligible to participate.

Study participation includes four clinic visits over the course of one year. The study is being conducted at the UC Health Addiction Sciences clinic, 3131 Harvey Ave., on the UC medical campus. 

All assessments associated with the study are free of charge, and participants can earn up to $220 for full participation. All randomized participants receive a free NARCAN® Nasal Spray kit.
The pilot study is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Individuals who would like to learn more about the study should call 513-725-6329.

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Jordan Bonomo on Fox19 News.

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