Low efficacy of non-opioid drugs in opioid withdrawal symptoms

Examines the efficacy of different non-opioid treatments of opioid withdrawal

  1. aemetha
    Study Author(s):
    Hermann, D., Klages, E., Welzel, H., Mann, K., & Croissant, B.
    Journal Name:
    Addiction Biology
    Publication Date:
    Abstract Opioid withdrawal, stress or cues associated with opioid consumption can induce opioid craving. If opioids are not available, opioid-dependent patients usually search for alternative drugs. Because several non-opioid drugs stimulate the endogenous opioidergic system, this concept may explain their frequent use by opioid-dependent patients. We hypothesized that non-opioid drugs alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms and are therefore consumed by opioid addicts. We asked 89 opioid-dependent patients participating in an out-patient opioid maintenance program to estimate the potential of several non-opioid drugs in being able to alleviate opioid withdrawal. We applied a five-point Lickert scale (1 = very good reduction of opioid withdrawal; 5 = no reduction of opioid withdrawal). Patients could also indicate a worsening of opioid withdrawal. Values (mean + SD) were: for benzodiazepines, 3.2 +1.1; tricyclic antidepressants, 3.6 +1.1; cannabis, 3.6 + 1.0; alcohol, 4.1 +1.1; cocaine, 4.2 +1.1; amphetamine, 4.4 +0.9; nicotine, 4.7 + 0.7; and caffeine, 4.9 +0.5. A worsening of opioid withdrawal was reported by 62% of the patients for cocaine, 62% for amphetamine, 50% for caffeine, 37.5% for cannabis, 27% for nicotine, 26% for alcohol, 8% for tricyclic antidepressants and 3% for benzodiazepines. Our study shows a low efficacy of non-opioid drugs in alleviating opioid withdrawal symptoms. The data basis of this study was good and the sample was suitable to be asked for estimations of drug-drug interactions. Of the patients, 26 – 62% even reported a worsening of opioid withdrawal for cannabis, alcohol, cocaine and amphetamine. Only benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants were reported to have a moderate positive effect on opioid withdrawal.

Recent Reviews

  1. Yellow Brick Reality
    Yellow Brick Reality
    Version: 1
    Unfortunately this study did not include a commonly prescribed non-opioid medication for withdrawal, clonodine. Otherwise, a great overview of medications that are thought helpful and harmful during opiate withdrawal.