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J Neural Transm Suppl. 2003;(66):33-60.

Substitution management in opioid dependence.

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Addiction Research Institute, Zurich, Switzerland.


Substitution treatment (replacement therapy) is the most widespread and the most frequently researched therapeutic approach to heroin dependence. At present, the "gold standard" is methadone maintenance, but the use of other agonists and of combined compounds with antagonists are increasingly used, especially Buprenorphine. This paper reviews the main findings from research and their consequences for best practice rules. The evolution and organisation of substitution treatment in Europe is described, indicating a major discrepancy in administrative regulations. Emerging trends are also mentioned, as well as the merits and limitations that mark the place of substitution treatment in a comprehensive therapeutic network for opioid dependence.

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