Patients’ goals when initiating long-acting injectable buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder: findings from a longitudinal qualitative study

Joanne Neale*, Stephen Parkin, John Strang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Long-acting injectable buprenorphine (LAIB) is a new treatment for opioid use disorder that has been introduced against an international policy backdrop of recovery and person-centred care. This paper explores the goals that people want to achieve from LAIB to identify potential implications for policy and practice. Methods: Data derive from longitudinal qualitative interviews conducted with 26 people (18 male; 8 female) initiating LAIB in England and Wales, UK (June 2021-March 2022). Participants were interviewed up to five times by telephone over six months (107 interviews in total). Transcribed interview data relating to each participant’s treatment goals were coded, summarised in Excel, and then analysed via a process of Iterative Categorization. Results: Participants often articulated a desire to be abstinent without defining exactly what they meant by this. Most intended to reduce their dosage of LAIB but did not want to rush. Although participants seldom used the term ‘recovery’, almost all identified objectives consistent with current definitions of this concept. Participants articulated broadly consistent goals over time, although some extended the timeframes for achieving treatment-related goals at later interviews. At their last interview, most participants remained on LAIB, and there were reports that the medication was enabling positive outcomes. Despite this, participants were aware of the complex personal, service-level, and situational factors that hindered their treatment progress, understood the additional support they needed to achieve their goals, and voiced frustrations when services failed them. Conclusions: There is a need for wider debate regarding the goals people initiating LAIB are seeking and the diverse range of positive treatment outcomes LAIB could potentially generate. Those providing LAIB should offer regular on-going contact and other forms of non-medical support so that patients have the best opportunity to succeed. Policies relating to recovery and person-centred care have previously been criticised for responsibilising patients and service users to take better care of themselves and to change their own lives. In contrast, our findings suggest that these policies may, in fact, be empowering people to expect a greater range of support as part of the package of care they receive from service providers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37
JournalSubstance Abuse: Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Abstinence
  • Long-acting Injectable Buprenorphine
  • Longitudinal
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Person-Centred Care
  • Qualitative
  • Recovery
  • Substance use


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