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F1000Res. 2017 Jan 27;6:87. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.10184.1. eCollection 2017.

Advances in the treatment of opioid use disorders.

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Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 3440 Market Street, 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, USA.


The development of medications for treating persons with opioid use disorders has expanded the number of evidence-based treatment options, particularly for persons with the most severe disorders. It has also improved outcomes compared to psychosocial treatment alone and expanded treatment availability by increasing the number of physicians involved in treatment and the settings where patients can be treated. The medications include methadone, buprenorphine, buprenorphine/naloxone, and extended-release injectable naltrexone. Studies have shown that they are most effective when used over an extended, but as-yet-unspecified, period of time and with counseling and other services, particularly for the many with psychosocial problems. Though controversial in some cultures, well-designed studies in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada have demonstrated the efficacy of supervised heroin injecting for persons who responded poorly to other treatments, and this treatment option has been approved by Switzerland and a few other E.U. countries. The degree to which medication-assisted therapies are available is dependent on many variables, including national and local regulations, preferences of individual providers and their geographical location, treatment costs, and insurance policies. Greater availability of medication-assisted therapies has become a major focus in the U.S. and Canada, where there has been a marked increase in deaths associated with heroin and prescription opioid use. This paper provides a brief summary of these developments.


buprenorphine; heroin; methadone; naltrexone; opioid use disorders; substance abuse

Conflict of interest statement

The author declares that he has no competing interests. No competing interests were disclosed. No competing interests were disclosed. No competing interests were disclosed.

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