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J Addict Med. 2010 Sep;4(3):140-6. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e3181ba895d.

A Clinical Trial Comparing Tapering Doses of Buprenorphine with Steady Doses for Chronic Pain and Co-existent Opioid Addiction.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, The State University of New York at Buffalo and the Erie County Medical Center Buffalo, New York.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Effective strategies are needed to manage individuals with chronic non-cancer pain and coexistent opioid addiction. This study compared opioid discontinuation and opioid replacement protocols.

METHODS:

We planned to enroll 60 individuals into an open-label trial who had been treated with opioids for chronic non-cancer pain, and who also had opioid addiction. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two 6-month treatment protocols of buprenorphine/naloxone sublingual tablets: 1) tapering doses for opioid weaning or "detoxification" (active comparator group) or 2) steady doses for opioid replacement (experimental group). They were followed monthly for the study outcomes: completion of the 6-month treatment protocol and self-reported pain control, physical functioning, alcohol consumption and illicit drug use.

RESULTS:

Enrollment was terminated after enrolling 12 participants because none of the 6 assigned to receive tapering doses could successfully complete the protocol (5 were given steady doses and 1 was admitted to an inpatient chemical dependency treatment program); whereas, of the 6 assigned to receive steady doses, 5 completed the protocol (1 withdrew). This difference between the 2 treatment conditions was significant (P = 0.015). Of the 10 participants who completed the 6 month follow-up, 8 reported improved pain control and physical functioning and 5 used alcohol and/or illicit drugs.

CONCLUSIONS:

We conclude that over 6 months, these participants with chronic pain and co-existent opioid addiction were more likely to adhere to an opioid replacement protocol than an opioid weaning protocol and that opioid replacement therapy with steady doses of buprenorphine/naloxone is associated with improved pain control and physical functioning.

KEYWORDS:

Detoxification; addiction; buprenorphine; opioids; pain

PMID:
20959867
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC2931595
Free PMC Article

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