The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has updated its Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, including with new information specifically addressed to individuals in the European Economic Area. As described in the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, this website utilizes cookies, including for the purpose of offering an optimal online experience and services tailored to your preferences.

Please read the entire Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. By closing this message, browsing this website, continuing the navigation, or otherwise continuing to use the APA's websites, you confirm that you understand and accept the terms of the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, including the utilization of cookies.



Although counseling is a required part of office-based buprenorphine treatment of opioid use disorders, the nature of what constitutes appropriate counseling is unclear and controversial. The authors review the literature on the role, nature, and intensity of behavioral interventions in office-based buprenorphine treatment.


The authors conducted a review of randomized controlled studies testing the efficacy of adding a behavioral intervention to buprenorphine maintenance treatment.


Four key studies showed no benefit from adding a behavioral intervention to buprenorphine plus medical management, and four studies indicated some benefit for specific behavioral interventions, primarily contingency management. The authors examined the findings from the negative trials in the context of six questions: 1) Is buprenorphine that effective? 2) Is medical management that effective? 3) Are behavioral interventions that ineffective in this population? 4) How has research design affected the results of studies of buprenorphine plus behavioral treatment? 5) What do we know about subgroups of patients who do and those who do not seem to benefit from behavioral interventions? 6) What should clinicians aim for in terms of treatment outcome in buprenorphine maintenance?


High-quality medical management may suffice for some patients, but there are few data regarding the types of individuals for whom medical management is sufficient. Physicians should consider a stepped-care model in which patients may begin with relatively nonintensive treatment, with increased intensity for patients who struggle early in treatment. Finally, with 6-month retention rates seldom exceeding 50% and poor outcomes following dropout, we must explore innovative strategies for enhancing retention in buprenorphine treatment.

Access content

To read the fulltext, please use one of the options below to sign in or purchase access.