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J Addict Dis. 2003;22(3):39-49.

Short-term buprenorphine maintenance: treatment outcome.

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Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Department of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Fifty-two heroin addicts were inducted onto buprenorphine under the care of psychiatric residents in a setting modeled on office practice. Subjects were maintained on a protocol of six weeks of 16 mg daily dosing, then tapered to zero dose up to week 16, and maintained on placebo through week 18. Of 44 subjects who continued after the first induction dose, 11 terminated during maintenance, 17 during taper; and 16 while on zero dose. Twice weekly urine toxicologies showed significant successive declines in samples positive for heroin use across these three periods: 70%, 41%, and 20%, respectively. Among historical variables, only prior AA attendance distinguished subjects who achieved zero dose from those who did not. A comparison with recent studies suggests that relatively inexperienced office-based physicians can maintain patients on buprenorphine at a level comparable to that reported for research clinic settings, but with comparable rates of heroin abstinence. These findings are discussed in light of potential options for office-based opioid maintenance.

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