Until recently community opiate detoxification strategies have largely been limited to gradual dose reductions in opiate substitute treatment (OST). These detoxes are often lengthy leading to “windows of opportunities” in patients’ motivation to detox being missed. Furthermore, many patients remain on sub-optimal OST doses for long periods of time, during which they are more vulnerable to relapse to illicit opiate use.
Within our community service, we adapted and implemented a novel two-week community opiate detoxification programme using buprenorphine front-loading and lofexidine. We worked in partnership with Bristol drugs project (BDP) to offer an 8-week psychosocial intervention alongside the medically assisted detoxification.
Assessing the completion rates and clinical safety of this intervention.
Data collection was performed through retrospective review of patients’ case notes over a 9-month period.
Seventy-five percent of the patients starting an opiate detox successfully completed the intervention.
Lofexidine improved the mean opiate withdrawal scores by 28% at 45 min after the first dose and this was a sustained effect throughout the detox. Mean systolic blood pressure dropped by 6.2 mmHg at 45 min after the first dose of lofexidine and by 16.5 mmHg two days later however this was asymptomatic in all patients. There was no significant change in the heart rate and no adverse events.
Our team innovatively adapted and tailored a cost-effective community opiate detoxification programme using a multi-agency strategy in a climate of limited funding and staff resources. Our data clearly indicates positive outcomes in terms of completion rates and clinical safety.
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.