UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Memantine improves buprenorphine/naloxone treatment for opioid dependent young adults

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry, Division of Addiction Psychiatry; Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction


BACKGROUND: Opioid use disorders are considered a serious public health problem among young adults. Current treatment is limited to long-term opioid substitution therapy, with high relapse rates after discontinuation. This study evaluated the co-administration of memantine to brief buprenorphine pharmacotherapy as a treatment alternative.

METHODS: 13-week double-blind placebo-controlled trial evaluating 80 young adult opioid dependent participants treated with buprenorphine/naloxone 16-4mg/day and randomized to memantine (15mg or 30mg) or placebo. Primary outcomes were a change in the weekly mean proportion of opioid use, and cumulative abstinence rates after rapid buprenorphine discontinuation on week 9.

RESULTS: Treatment retention was not significantly different between groups. The memantine 30mg group was significantly less likely to relapse and to use opioids after buprenorphine discontinuation. Among participants abstinent on week 8, those in the memantine 30mg group (81.9%) were significantly less likely to relapse after buprenorphine was discontinued compared to the placebo group (30%) (p < 0.025). Also, the memantine 30mg group had significantly reduced opioid use (mean=0, SEM+/-0.00) compared to the placebo group (mean=0.33, SEM+/-0.35; p < 0.004) during the last 2 weeks of study participation.

CONCLUSIONS: Memantine 30mg significantly improved short-term treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone for opioid dependent young adults by reducing relapse and opioid use after buprenorphine discontinuation. Combined short-term treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone may be an effective alternative treatment to long-term methadone or buprenorphine maintenance in young adults.


Buprenorphine, Early relapse, Memantine, Opioid dependence, Young adults

DOI of Published Version



Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Nov 1;156:243-53. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.09.020. Epub 2015 Sep 30. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Drug and alcohol dependence

PubMed ID