Treating Opioid Addiction By Use Of Opioids

Knoxville, TN (PressExposure) July 27, 2009 -- There have been many kinds of medications currently used today for the treatment of opioid addiction. 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. Among the most commonly used adult and adolescent drug treatment for opioid dependence today are methadone and buprenorphine.

Methadone treatment

Methadone is successful as an adult and adolescent drug treatment for opioid dependence. It has cross-tolerance with other opioids including heroin and morphine and a long duration of effects. Oral doses of methadone can stabilise patients by mitigating opioid withdrawal syndrome. Higher doses of methadone (60–80 mg+) can block the euphoric effects of heroin, morphine, and similar drugs. As a result, properly dosed methadone patients can reduce or stop altogether their use of these substances.

Buprenorphine treatment

Buprenorphine sublingual preparations are often used in the management of opioid dependence. The Suboxone and Subutex preparations were approved for this indication by the United States FDA in October 2002. This was only possible due to the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000, which for the first time since 1914-1920 made it legal for doctors to prescribe opioids themselves to manage addiction ("maintenance") or for short-term detox. The first Buprenorphine treatment program for adult and adolescent drug treatment of opioid dependence in the United States was founded by Dr. David McDowell at Columbia University and reported an 88% success rate with its patients.

Other medications

In some countries, other opioid derivatives such as levomethadyl acetate, dihydrocodeine, and dihydroetorphine are used as substitute drugs for illegal street opiates, with different drugs being used depending on the needs of the individual patient.

* Levomethadyl acetate - 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 the treatment of opioid dependence. In 2001, Orlaam (trade name) was removed from the European market due to reports of life threatening ventricular rhythm disorders.

* Dihydrocodeine - Is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic developed in Germany in 1908 and put on the market in 1911. It is prescribed for postoperative pain, severe dyspnea, or as an antitussive. In some countries, controlled-release dihydrocodeine and/or the immediate release forumulations are used as an alternative to methadone in treatment of opioid dependency and addiction.

* Dihydroetorphine - Dihydroetorphine 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.

About Donna Sparks

Donna Sparks is a Professor and a Consultant Physician. Other than her clinical and local teaching commitments, she also continues to enjoy the privileges of research, writing and lecturing.

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Press Release Submitted On: July 26, 2009 at 10:53 pm
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