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Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2006 Feb;14(1):52-67.

Early impact of methadone induction for heroin dependence: differential effects of two dose sequences in a randomized controlled study.

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  • 1Substance Abuse Research Division, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, School of Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48207, USA.


The pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic effects of 2 methadone (METH) induction dose sequences were evaluated in this 15-day outpatient experimental protocol. Heroin-dependent, non-treatment-seeking volunteers were randomly assigned (stratified for gender, race, and route of heroin use) to 2 groups. In 1 sequence, METH doses ascended (28, 56, then 84 mg/day; stepwise, n = 18), whereas in the other sequence doses escalated, then tapered (28-84 mg on Days 1-6 to 56 mg/day; rapid, n = 16). A contingency-management intervention was common to both groups. Drug use and heroin craving and opioid withdrawal symptoms decreased, whereas agonist symptoms and positive mood increased overall across days for both groups. Plasma concentrations and the acute reinforcing effects of METH paralleled each dose sequence. Stepwise relative to rapid METH induction significantly decreased heroin craving and opioid withdrawal symptoms and increased agonist symptoms and positive mood but did not significantly improve drug use or retention. Although these specific dosing procedures would not necessarily be used in clinical settings, they provide a procedural template that might be applied safely and effectively with a broader range of treatment-seeking individuals.

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