Perceptions of extended-release naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine treatments following release from jail

Melissa Velasquez, Mara Flannery, Ryan Badolato, Alexandria Vittitow, Ryan D. McDonald, Babak Tofighi, Ann R. Garment, Jonathan Giftos, Joshua D. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Few studies have documented patient attitudes and experiences with extended-release naltrexone (XR-NTX) opioid relapse prevention in criminal justice settings. This study assessed barriers and facilitators of jail-to-community reentry among adults with opioid use disorder (OUD) treated with XR-NTX, buprenorphine, methadone, and no medications. Methods: This qualitative study conducted individual interviews with a purposeful and convenience sample of adults with OUD who were recently released from NYC jails. XR-NTX, no medication, and methadone participants were concurrently enrolled in a large randomized controlled trial evaluating XR-NTX vs. a no medication Enhanced Treatment As Usual (ETAU) condition, or enrolled in a non-randomized quasi-experimental methadone maintenance cohort. Buprenorphine participants were referred from NYC jails to a public hospital office-based buprenorphine program and not enrolled in the parent trial. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, independently coded by two researchers, and analyzed per a grounded theory approach adapted to the Social Cognitive Theory framework. The research team reviewed transcripts and coding to reach consensus on emergent themes. Results: N = 33 adults with OUD (28 male, 5 female) completed a single individual interview. Purposeful sampling recruited persons leaving jail on XR-NTX (n = 11), no active medication treatment (n = 9), methadone (n = 9), and buprenorphine (n = 4). Emergent themes were: (1) general satisfaction with XR-NTX's long-acting antagonist effects and control of cravings; (2) "testing" XR-NTX's blockade with heroin upon reentry was common; (3) early discontinuation of XR-NTX treatment was most common among persons with high self-efficacy and/or heavy exposure to drug use environments and peers; (4) similar satisfaction regarding effects of methadone and buprenorphine maintenance among retained-in-treatment individuals, alongside general dissatisfaction with daily observed dosing requirements and misinformation and stigmas regarding methadone adverse effects; (5) unstable housing, economic insecurity, and exposure to actively using peers were attributed to early termination of treatment and relapse; (6) individual motivation and willpower as central to long-term opioid abstinence and reentry success. Conclusions: In the context of more familiar agonist maintenance treatments, XR-NTX relapse prevention during jail-to-community reentry was viewed as a helpful and unique intervention though with important limitations. Commonly described barriers to treatment retention and heroin abstinence included homelessness, economic insecurity, and drug-using peers. Trial registration, NCT01999946 (XOR), Registered 03 December 2013,

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number37
JournalAddiction Science and Clinical Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Extended-release naltrexone
  • Incarceration
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Reentry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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