Knoxville, TN (PressExposure) June 24, 2009 -- Medications for opioid dependence such as methadone or buprenorphine are some of the most popular types of drugs currently used today. Although these drugs are themselves addictive, opioid dependency is so severe that a way to stabilize opioid use is required. Once stabilized, treatment enters maintenance or tapering phases. But other than these medications, other opioid derivatives have also been used as substitute drugs for illegal street opiates such as levomethadyl acetate, dihydrocodeine, and dihydroetorphine.
Levomethadyl acetate, also known as levo-α-acetylmethadol (LAAM) is a synthetic opioid similar in structure to methadone. It has a long duration of action due to its active metabolites. It was approved in 1993 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in for adult and adolescent drug treatment of opioid dependence. LAAM is indicated as a second-line treatment for the treatment and management of opioid dependence if patients fail to respond to drugs like methadone or buprenorphine. LAAM is not approved for use in Canada.
Commonly available as tablets, solutions, elixirs, and other oral forms, dihydrocodeine is also available in some countries as an injectable solution for deep subcutaneous and intra-muscular administration. As with codeine, intravenous administration should be avoided, as it could result in anaphylaxis and dangerous pulmonary edema. In past times, dihydrocodeine suppositories were used; however,dihydrocodeine is available in suppository form on prescription. These tablets are used in some countries, such as Austria, as an alternative to methadone (MS-Contin/MST-Continus type medications and buprenorphine are also used for this purpose) for management of opiate addiction. As an adult and adolescent drug treatment, common trade names for the extended-release tablets are Didor Continus, Codidol, Codi-Contin, Dicodin (made in France and the major product containing the tartrate salt), Contugesic, and DHC Continus.
Dihydroetorphine is a potent analgesic drug (painkiller), which is used mainly in China. It is a derivative of the more well-known opioid etorphine, which is used as a very potent veterinary painkiller and anesthetic medication, primarily for the sedation of large animals such as elephants, giraffes and rhinos. Dihydroetorphine as an adult or adolescent drug treatment is considered to be somewhat less addictive than many other opioids, and is also sometimes used in China as a substitute maintenance drug for opioid addicts, in a similar way to how the related drug buprenorphine is used in western nations.