The official journal of
EUROPAD - European Opiate Addiction Treatment Association
WFTOD - World Federation for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence
Editor: Icro Maremmani, MD - Pisa, Italy, EU
Associate Editors:
Thomas Clausen, MD - Oslo, Norway
Pier Paolo Pani, MD - Cagliari, Italy, EU
Marta Torrens, MD - Barcelona, Spain, EU
Statistical Editor:
Mario Miccoli, PhD - Pisa, Italy, EU

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Heroin Addiction and Related Clinical Problems: 2021, 23, N4 (pages: 25 - 32)

Traditional Chinese Medicine-Based Medication-Assisted Therapy for Switching from Methadone to Buprenorphine/Naloxone in treating Opioid Use Disorder

Yu K.-C., Wei H.-T., Chih S.-Z., and Hsu C.-H.

Summary: Background: The switch from using methadone to buprenorphine/naloxone is challenging. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) herbal treatment may offer an alternative approach to medication-assisted therapy (MAT). Methods: Eight patients with heroin use disorder, who had been undergoing regular methadone maintenance treatment, were switched from using methadone to buprenorphine/naloxone in clinics of Taipei City Hospital, Linsen Chinese Medicine and Kunming branches. TCM diagnoses were formulated and herbal treatment was applied during the drug-switching period. Clinical manifestations of methadone dosage, opioid withdrawal symptoms based on the Clinical Opioid Withdrawal Scale (COWS) scores, and heart rate variability (HRV) in baseline and 2 months after herbal treatment were recorded. Results: After 4.0 ± 2.2 months of the TCM-facilitated treatment, the methadone dosage was gradually tapered from 21.0 ± 14.9 to 6.7 ± 4.7 mg daily, and was later switched to buprenorphine/naloxone. During the drug-switching period, no severe methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone-induced withdrawal symptoms were observed; what is more, both COWS scores and HRV improved. Conclusions: Traditional Chinese herbal medicine may offer an alternative approach to MAT when the decision has been taken to switch from the use of methadone to buprenorphine/naloxone.


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