Naltrexone can be used to treat opioid dependence, but patients refuse to take it. Extended-release depot formulations may improve adherence, but long-term adherence rates to depot naltrexone are not known. This study determined long-term rates of adherence to depot naltrexone and whether employment-based reinforcement can improve adherence.
Participants who were inducted onto oral naltrexone were randomly assigned to Contingency (n=18) or Prescription (n=17) groups. Participants were offered six depot naltrexone injections and invited to work at the therapeutic workplace weekdays for 26 weeks where they earned stipends for participating in job skills training. Contingency participants were required to accept naltrexone injections to maintain workplace access and to maintain maximum pay. Prescription participants could work independent of whether they accepted injections.
The therapeutic workplace, a model employment-based intervention for drug addiction and unemployment.
Opioid-dependent unemployed adults.
Depot naltrexone injections accepted and opiate-negative urine samples.
Contingency participants accepted significantly more naltrexone injections than Prescription participants (81% versus 42%), and were more likely to accept all injections (66% versus 35%). At monthly assessments (with missing urine samples imputed as positive), the groups provided similar percentages of samples negative for opiates (74% versus 62%) and for cocaine (56% versus 54%). Opiate positive samples were more likely when samples were also positive for cocaine.
Employment-based reinforcement can maintain adherence to depot naltrexone. Future research should determine whether persistent cocaine use compromises naltrexone's effect on opiate use. Workplaces may be useful for promoting sustained adherence to depot naltrexone.