New research has found that the medication clonidine can improve outcomes for outpatients receiving buprenorphine treatment for opioid dependence, apparently by reducing the stress that can exacerbate drug craving.
Published online March 17 in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the study of 208 individuals receiving treatment at an outpatient buprenorphine clinic found that patients receiving clonidine for 14 weeks saw a longer duration of opioid abstinence and a longer period to “lapse” (defined as one opioid-positive or missed drug test) than patients receiving placebo. The treatments were compared after patients had demonstrated abstinence in weeks five to six of their buprenorphine treatment.
Study authors stated in the study abstract, “Clonidine, a readily available medication, is useful in opioid dependence not just for reduction of withdrawal signs, but also as an adjunctive maintenance treatment that increases duration of abstinence. Even in the absence of physical withdrawal, it decouples stress from craving in everyday life.”