According to research lead by Didier Jutras-Aswad, professor of psychiatry and addictology at the University of Montréal, there is now new evidence suggesting a more flexible form of care than methadone can be just as successful in treating opioid use disorder.
Between January 2016 and December 2021, there were a total of 29,052 deaths that appeared to be caused by opioid poisoning.
Canada is one of the world’s top consumers of opioids, whether they are obtained legally through legitimate medical prescriptions or illegally from suppliers of very potent narcotics like fentanyl.
The clinical scientist at the CHUM Research Centre has collaborated with the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse to publish the findings of a randomised controlled research in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Their approach to treatment is centred on recommending buprenorphine-naloxone, also known as Suboxone in the marketplace, as opposed to methadone, which must be taken under strict supervision at a pharmacy.
Between October 2017 and March 2020, seven hospitals and clinics in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia recruited more than 270 adult volunteers for the OPTIMA trial. All had problematic opioid use from either legally made or illegally produced opioids, with an average age of 39 and one third being women. The opioids that were inventoried included fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, and oxycodone.
The subjects were split into two groups at random. One group took Suboxone, which was often taken at home, while the other received methadone under strict supervision in a pharmacy. They were observed for 24 weeks in order to compare how well each treatment affected their use of opioids.
Starting in the first few weeks of therapy, study participants were permitted to take Suboxone at home. The method worked equally as well as using methadone, without requiring close supervision. In order to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the therapies, investigations contrasting the effectiveness of these two opioid-agonist therapies (OATs) have up until now been carried out under under medical supervision.
Since being under supervision restricts easy access to it, many others just don’t obtain such therapy, and those who do frequently find it restricting.
The remedy that the OPTIMA study’s data suggest is a crucial part of the response to the opioid and overdose crisis; nevertheless, it must be a part of a wider array of harm reduction tactics to address these issues.