A longer period of
detoxification may be more effective for people being treated for addiction to
prescription painkillers called opioids, according to a small new study.
Abuse of prescription
opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone is a major public
health problem in the United States. The new 12-week study, which included 70
people undergoing outpatient treatment for opioid addiction, was published
online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
For the first two weeks,
all the patients took buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid
They were then randomly assigned to slowly reduce the dose of
buprenorphine over one, two or four weeks, followed by treatment with
naltrexone, a medication that blocks opioid strength.
Patients in the four-week
group were more likely to stop abusing opioids than those in the one-week or
two-week groups, the study showed.
The findings suggest that
some prescription opioid abusers may respond positively to outpatient treatment
with buprenorphine detoxification followed by naltrexone while undergoing behavioural
therapy [counselling], study authors wrote.
studies are needed to better understand the parameters of efficacious
treatments for [prescription opioid] dependence, as well as to identify the
individuals for whom brief vs. longer-term treatments are warranted,"
concluded study authors Stacey Sigmon, of the University of Vermont, in
The US National Institute
on Drug Abuse has more about prescription