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Lancet. 2003 Feb 22;361(9358):662-8.

1-year retention and social function after buprenorphine-assisted relapse prevention treatment for heroin dependence in Sweden: a randomised, placebo-controlled trial.

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  • 1Division of Psychiatry, Neurotec, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge University Hospital, S-141 86, Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The partial opiate-receptor agonist buprenorphine has been suggested for treatment of heroin dependence, but there are few long-term and placebo-controlled studies of its effectiveness. We aimed to assess the 1-year efficacy of buprenorphine in combination with intensive psychosocial therapy for treatment of heroin dependence.

METHODS:

40 individuals aged older than 20 years, who met DSM-IV criteria for opiate dependence for at least 1 year, but did not fulfil Swedish legal criteria for methadone maintenance treatment were randomly allocated either to daily buprenorphine (fixed dose 16 mg sublingually for 12 months; supervised daily administration for a least 6 months, possible take-home doses thereafter) or a tapered 6 day regimen of buprenorphine, thereafter followed by placebo. All patients participated in cognitive-behavioural group therapy to prevent relapse, received weekly individual counselling sessions, and submitted thrice weekly supervised urine samples for analysis to detect illicit drug use. Our primary endpoint was 1-year retention in treatment and analysis was by intention to treat.

FINDINGS:

1-year retention in treatment was 75% and 0% in the buprenorphine and placebo groups, respectively (p=0.0001; risk ratio 58.7 [95% CI 7.4-467.4]). Urine screens were about 75% negative for illicit opiates, central stimulants, cannabinoids, and benzodiazepines in the patients remaining in treatment.

INTERPRETATION:

The combination of buprenorphine and intensive psychosocial treatment is safe and highly efficacious, and should be added to the treatment options available for individuals who are dependent on heroin.

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PMID:
12606177
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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