A new study suggests patients taking buprenorphine to treat their opioid addiction may benefit from tapering off the medication over four weeks instead of a shorter period. The longer detoxification is effective when it is followed by treatment with naltrexone, a drug that blocks opioid strength, the researchers found.
Researchers at the University of Vermont followed 70 people undergoing outpatient treatment for opioid addiction. For the first two weeks of the 12-week study, patients took buprenorphine. They were randomly selected to reduce the dose of the drug over one, two or four weeks. All of them then received naltrexone treatment and behavior therapy, HealthDay reports.
Patients who tapered off buprenorphine over four weeks were more likely to stop abusing opioids, compared with those who tapered off the drug over one or two weeks.
The findings are published in JAMA Psychiatry.