Home > Heroin on trial: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials of diamorphine-prescribing as treatment for refractory heroin addiction.

Strang, John and Groshkova, Teodora and Uchtenhagen, A and van den Brink, Wim and Haasen, Christian and Schechter, Martin T and Lintzeris, Nicholas and Bell, James and Pirona, Alessandro and Oviedo-Joekes, Eugenia and Simon, Roland and Metrebian, Nicola . (2015) Heroin on trial: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials of diamorphine-prescribing as treatment for refractory heroin addiction. Royal College of Psychiatry. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 207 (1) 5-14. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.149195

URL: http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/207/1/5?iss=1


Background: Supervised injectable heroin (SIH) treatment has emerged over the past 15 years as an intensive treatment for entrenched heroin users who have not responded to standard treatments such as oral methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) or residential rehabilitation. 

Aims: To synthesise published findings for treatment with SIH for refractory heroin-dependence through systematic review and meta-analysis, and to examine the political and scientific response to these findings. 

Method: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of SIH treatment were identified through database searching, and random effects pooled efficacy was estimated for SIH treatment. Methodological quality was assessed according to criteria set out by the Cochrane Collaboration. 

Results: Six RCTs met the inclusion criteria for analysis. Across the trials, SIH treatment improved treatment outcome, i.e. greater reduction in the use of illicit ‘street’ heroin in patients receiving SIH treatment compared with control groups (most often receiving MMT). 

Conclusions: SIH is found to be an effective way of treating heroin dependence refractory to standard treatment. SIH may be less safe than MMT and therefore requires more clinical attention to manage greater safety issues. This intensive intervention is for a patient population previously considered unresponsive to treatment. Inclusion of this low-volume, high-intensity treatment can now improve the impact of comprehensive healthcare provision.

Item Type:Evidence resource
Publication Type:Review
Drug Type:Opioid
Intervention Type:AOD disorder drug therapy, AOD disorder treatment method
Date:July 2015
Pages:5-14
Page Range:pp. 5-14
Publisher:Royal College of Psychiatry
Volume:207
Number:1
EndNote:View
Subjects:B Substances > Opioids (opiates)
B Substances > Opioids (opiates) > Heroin
HJ Treatment method > Substance disorder treatment method > Substance disorder drug therapy
HJ Treatment method > Substance disorder treatment method > Substance replacement method (substitution)
HJ Treatment method > Treatment outcome
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Treatment and maintenance > Treatment factors

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