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Type: Journal article
Title: a₂-Adrenergic agonists in opioid withdrawal
Other Titles: a(2)-Adrenergic agonists in opioid withdrawal
Author: Gowing, L.
Farrell, M.
Ali, R.
White, J.
Citation: Addiction, 2002; 97(1):49-58
Publisher: Carfax Publishing
Issue Date: 2002
ISSN: 0965-2140
Statement of
Linda R. Gowing, Michael Farrell, Robert L. Ali and Jason M. White
Abstract: OBJECTIVES: This paper presents the main findings of a systematic (Cochrane) review of the effectiveness of α2-adrenergic agonists in managing opioid withdrawal. DESIGN: The original systematic review included controlled trials that compared α2-adrenergic agonists with another form of treatment (or placebo) in participants who were primarily opioid-dependent. MAIN FINDINGS: Ten studies compared a treatment regime based on an α2-adrenergic agonist with one based on reducing doses of methadone. Withdrawal intensity is similar to, or marginally greater with α2-adrenergic agonists, but signs and symptoms of withdrawal occur and resolve earlier in treatment. Participants stay in treatment longer with methadone. The likelihood of completing withdrawal is similar, or slightly less, with clonidine or lofexidine. Clonidine is associated with more adverse effects than reducing doses of methadone. Three studies compared the α2-adrenergic agonists, clonidine and lofexidine. Lofexidine does not reduce blood pressure to the same extent as clonidine, but is otherwise similar to clonidine. CONCLUSIONS: Participants stay in treatment longer with methadone regimes, which may provide greater opportunity for psychosocial intervention. Methadone regimes may be preferable for withdrawal in outpatient settings where the risk of relapse to heroin use is high. The use of methadone may also facilitate transfer to maintenance treatment should completion of withdrawal become unlikely. For those who are well prepared for withdrawal and seeking earlier resolution of withdrawal symptoms, α2-adrenergic agonist treatment may be preferred. Clonidine and lofexidine appear equally effective for inpatient settings, but the lower incidence of hypotension makes lofexidine more suited to use in outpatient settings.
Keywords: Adrenergic alpha-agonists; opioid dependence; systematic review; withdrawal syndrome
Description: The definitive version is available at
Rights: a(2)-Adrenergic agonists in opioid withdrawal
RMID: 0020020078
DOI: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2002.00037.x
Appears in Collections:Pharmacology publications

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