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Gradual tapering of buprenorphine and naloxone spikes abstinence rate among opioid abusers

Gradual tapering of buprenorphine and naloxone spikes abstinence rate among opioid abusers

Scientists and health care providers continuously strive toward determining the ways to boost recovery rates among people addicted to a substance or engaged in some form of substance abuse. Due to the high relapse rates for addiction, it can become exceedingly difficult to determine whether people enrolled in recovery programs for substance abuse will successfully adhere to their goal to achieve sobriety or succumb to their vices.

A clinical trial supported and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggested that a short-term intensive outpatient detoxification treatment along with the use of naltrexone as an opioid antagonist therapy can empower individuals addicted to opioid painkillers to commence and maintain their abstinence.

Understanding relationship between tapering of medications and abstinence from substance

The trial, led by Dr. Stacey Sigmon and her colleagues at the University of Vermont, included 70 adult participants diagnosed with an addiction to opioid painkillers. The participants were enrolled into a 12-week randomized clinical trial that was double-blinded. The trial followed a three-step detoxification process as follows:

  • Stabilization after achieving suppression of withdrawal symptoms, cravings, etc. due to the buprenorphine and naloxone dosage.
  • Gradually tapering of the buprenorphine and naloxone dosage to zero over one, two or four weeks.
  • Administering opioid antagonist naltrexone once the patient urine samples exhibited negative opioid biomarkers along with the reports of no opioid use in the past 24 hours.

The participants were engaged in bi-weekly behavioral therapy under the evidence-based Community Reinforcement Approach and went through the staff-observed urinalysis testing three times a week. Additional nonopioid medications were administered when patients encountered the symptoms of withdrawal.

Compared to the standard detoxification processes, it was found that the patients in the clinical trial attained greater abstinence rates. Since the duration over which the level of buprenorphine and naloxone were tapered is an important factor that contributes to a patient’s ability to abstain. It, in fact, presents a direct relationship between the duration of the tapering and the level of abstinence.

Patients drafted into the four-week buprenorphine and naloxone taper displayed the highest rate of opioid-free urine samples during the 12-week trial. Among the patients in the study, 22 patients or 63 percent were found abstinent at the five-week mark, while 50 percent continued their abstinence at the end of the 12-week trial. Moreover, 29 percent of the patients provided drug-free urine samples at the five-week mark, which dropped to 20 percent or less by the end of the trial.

Naltrexone impedes scope of relapse by reducing euphoric effects

The researchers of the study suggest that time-limited approaches similar to that of the clinical trial may ensure higher recovery rates among individuals dependent on opioids, especially those with a severe level of dependence on opioids.

Besides, the inclusion of naltrexone therapy following detoxification is also believed to prevent the abuse of opioid medications as naltrexone blocks the receptors that bind with opioids. For instance, patients undergoing the treatment for opioid addiction may falter and resume their opioid abuse but would be unable to reach the expected euphoria due to the effect of naltrexone.

Furthermore, the researchers affirm that the gradual buprenorphine and naloxone tapering has the potential to effectively suppress opioid withdrawal symptoms while simultaneously lessening discomfort and the risk of a relapse in the future.

Take rational steps to stop abuse

Such innovative approaches can help both medical practitioners and patients in the overcoming the challenges of substance abuse. Besides the consistent experimentation and studies to figure out advanced treatments, the need of the hour is to encourage patients to undergo an effective treatment. By undergoing detoxification, which is the first step to recovery, one can learn the ways to control withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

If you or your loved one is battling any form of substance abuse, it is important to seek professional help from the Colorado Detox Helpline to connect to the best detox centers in Colorado that specialize in delivering a holistic detoxification through evidence-based intervention plans. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-730-5807 or chat online with our medical representatives to know more about the detox treatment centers in Colorado.

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