Buprenorphine vs methadone maintenance treatment for concurrent opioid dependence and cocaine abuse

Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., USA.
Archives of General Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 14.48). 09/1997; 54(8):713-20.
Source: PubMed


Buprenorphine, a partial mu-agonist and kappa-antagonist, has been proposed as an alternative to methadone for maintenance treatment of opioid dependence, especially for patients with concurrent cocaine dependence or abuse. This study evaluated whether higher maintenance doses of buprenorphine and methadone are superior to lower doses for reducing illicit opioid use and whether buprenorphine is superior to methadone for reducing cocaine use.
A total of 116 subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 maintenance treatment groups involving higher or lower daily doses of sublingual buprenorphine (12 or 4 mg) or methadone (65 or 20 mg) in a double-blind, 24-week clinical trial. Outcome measures included retention in treatment and illicit opioid and cocaine use as determined by urine toxicology testing and self-report.
There were significant effects of maintenance treatment on rates of illicit opioid use, but no significant differences in treatment retention or the rates of cocaine use. The rates of opioid-positive toxicology tests were lowest for treatment with 65 mg of methadone (45%), followed by 12 mg of buprenorphine (58%), 20 mg of methadone (72%), and 4 mg of buprenorphine (77%), with significant contrasts found between 65 mg of methadone and both lower-dose treatments and between 12 mg of buprenorphine and both lower-dose treatments.
The results support the superiority of higher daily buprenorphine and methadone maintenance doses vs lower doses for reducing illicit opioid use, but the results do not support the superiority of buprenorphine compared with methadone for reducing cocaine use.

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    • "Some addictions specialists have advocated for doses above 100 mg (Maremmani et al., 2003; Fareed et al., 2009), particularly in special populations (McCarthy et al., 2005). One criticism of nearly all recent major trials, including our previous studies, is that they used fixed doses (Strain et al., 1993; Ling et al., 1996; Schottenfeld et al., 1997; Preston et al., 2000) rather than the more "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Methadone maintenance for heroin dependence reduces illicit drug use, crime, HIV risk, and death. Typical dosages have increased over the past few years, based on strong experimental and clinical evidence that dosages under 60 mg/day are inadequate and that dosages closer to 100mg/day produce better outcomes. However, there is little experimental evidence for the benefits of exceeding 100 mg/day, or for individualizing methadone dosages. We sought to provide such evidence. Methods: We combined individualized methadone dosages over 100 mg/day with voucher-based cocaine-targeted contingency management (CM) in 58 heroin- and cocaine-dependent outpatients. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a fixed dose increase from 70 mg/day to 100mg/day, or to be eligible for further dose increases (up to 190 mg/day, based on withdrawal symptoms, craving, and continued heroin use). All dosing was double-blind. The main outcome measure was simultaneous abstinence from heroin and cocaine. Results: We stopped the study early due to slow accrual. Cocaine-targeted CM worked as expected to reduce cocaine use. Polydrug use (effect-size h=.30) and heroin craving (effect-size d=.87) were significantly greater in the flexible/high-dose condition than in the fixed-dose condition, with no trend toward lower heroin use in the flexible/high-dose participants. Conclusions: Under double-blind conditions, dosages of methadone over 100mg/day, even when prescribed based on specific signs and symptoms, were not better than 100mg/day. This counterintuitive finding requires replication, but supports the need for additional controlled studies of high-dose methadone.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Drug and alcohol dependence
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    • "Three RCTs have compared methadone with buprenorphine maintenance treatment for patients using both opioids and cocaine. One RCT (Schottenfeld et al., 2005) (Ib) found that methadone at an average dose of 80 mg was superior to buprenorphine average dose 15 mg, whereas two studies showed no difference between the two treatments in opioid or cocaine-free urines at 26 weeks (Strain et al., 1994) and 24 weeks (Schottenfeld et al., 1997) (Ib). "
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    ABSTRACT: The British Association for Psychopharmacology guidelines for the treatment of substance abuse, harmful use, addiction and comorbidity with psychiatric disorders primarily focus on their pharmacological management. They are based explicitly on the available evidence and presented as recommendations to aid clinical decision making for practitioners alongside a detailed review of the evidence. A consensus meeting, involving experts in the treatment of these disorders, reviewed key areas and considered the strength of the evidence and clinical implications. The guidelines were drawn up after feedback from participants. The guidelines primarily cover the pharmacological management of withdrawal, short- and long-term substitution, maintenance of abstinence and prevention of complications, where appropriate, for substance abuse or harmful use or addiction as well management in pregnancy, comorbidity with psychiatric disorders and in younger and older people.
    Full-text · Article · May 2012 · Journal of Psychopharmacology
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    • "In some clinical trials with opiate dependent subjects, buprenorphine treatment has been associated with a reduction in cocaine use [159] whereas other trials have found no evidence of efficacy [160] [161]. More recently, a sublingual buprenorphine high dose preparation solution was found effective in reducing both opiate and cocaine use in heroin addicts, with a therapeutic action on cocaine use that appeared independent of that on opiates [162]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Cocaine dependence is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and high vulnerability to relapse. Overall, cocaine remains one of the most used illicit drugs in the world. Given the difficulty of achieving sustained recovery, pharmacotherapy of cocaine addiction remains one of the most important clinical challenges. Recent advances in neurobiology, brain imaging and clinical trials suggest that certain medications show promise in the treatment of cocaine addiction. The pharmacotherapeutic approaches for cocaine dependence include medications able to target specific subtypes of dopamine receptors, affect different neurotransmitter systems (i.e. noradrenergic, serotonergic, cholinergic, glutamatergic, GABAergic and opioidergic pathways), and modulate neurological processes. The systematic reviews concerning the pharmacological treatment of cocaine dependence appear to indicate controversial findings and inconclusive results. The aim of future studies should be to identify the effective medications matching the specific needs of patients with specific characteristics, abandoning the strategies extended to the entire population of cocaine dependent patients. In the present review we summarize the current pharmacotherapeutic approaches to the treatment of cocaine dependence with a focus on the new patents.
    Full-text · Article · May 2011
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