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Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2009 Jun;29(4):449-54. doi: 10.1007/s10571-008-9336-4. Epub 2008 Dec 25.

A meta-analysis of acupuncture combined with opioid receptor agonists for treatment of opiate-withdrawal symptoms.

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National Institute on Drug Dependence, Peking University, Hai Dian District, Beijing, China.


This review extends a prior meta-analysis of acupuncture's utility for treating opioid detoxification, addressing the efficacy of acupuncture when combined with allopathic therapies. Both English and Chinese databases were searched for randomized trials comparing acupuncture combined with opioid agonist treatment versus opioid agonists alone for treating symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The methodological quality of each study was assessed with Jadad's scale (1-2 = low; 3-5 = high). Meta-analysis was performed with fixed- or random-effect models in RevMan software; the outcome measures assessed were withdrawal-symptoms score, relapse rate, side effects, and medication dosage. Withdrawal-symptom scores were lower in combined treatment trials than in agonist-alone trials on withdrawal days 1, 7, 9, and 10. Combined treatment also produced lower reported rates of side effects and appeared to lower the required dose of opioid agonist. There was no significant difference on relapse rate after 6 months. This meta-analysis suggests that acupuncture combined with opioid agonists can effectively be used to manage the withdrawal symptoms. One limitation of this meta-analysis is the poor quality of the methodology of some included trials. High-quality studies are needed to confirm findings regarding the side effects and medication dosage.

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