Long-term methadone maintenance reduces protracted symptoms of heroin abstinence and cue-induced craving in Chinese heroin abusers.

Cession of heroin use may be followed by a protracted-abstinence (PA) syndrome consisting of craving, negative mood, and physiological changes. PA symptoms have rarely been compared between drug-free and methadone-maintained former heroin users after similar lengths of heroin abstinence.
Seventy former heroin users were included in one of four groups: in day 15-45 of methadone maintenance therapy (short-term MMT), in month 5-6 of MMT (long-term MMT), opiate-free for 15-45 days after methadone-assisted heroin detoxification (short-term post-methadone), and opiate-free for 5-6 months after methadone-assisted heroin detoxification (long-term post-methadone). PA symptoms (negative mood, dyssomnia, somatization, and craving), and blood pressure and pulse were assessed pre- and post-neutral videotape and pre- and post-heroin videotape.
Dyssomnia and the total PA score were worst in short-term post-methadone participants, mood was best in long-term MMT participants, and cue-induced craving was least severe in long-term MMT participants. Blood pressure and pulse did not differ across groups.
Even after acute withdrawal, the first months of heroin abstinence after methadone-assisted detoxification may be more difficult in terms of cue-induced craving and other PA symptoms than the first months of heroin abstinence during MMT. Our findings add to the literature supporting MMT for prevention of cue-induced heroin craving.
AuthorsJie Shi, Li-Yan Zhao, David H Epstein, Xiao-Li Zhang, Lin Lu
JournalPharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior (Pharmacol Biochem Behav) Vol. 87 Issue 1 Pg. 141-5 (May 2007) ISSN: 0091-3057 [Print] United States
PMID17532034 (Publication Type: Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't)
Chemical References
  • Narcotics
  • Methadone
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure (drug effects)
  • China
  • Cues
  • Heart Rate (drug effects)
  • Heroin Dependence (psychology, rehabilitation)
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methadone (therapeutic use)
  • Mood Disorders (etiology, psychology)
  • Narcotics (therapeutic use)
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sleep Wake Disorders (etiology, psychology)
  • Somatoform Disorders (etiology, psychology)
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome (psychology)

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