A comparison of rapid (opioid) detoxification with clonidine-assisted detoxification for heroin-dependent persons

J Opioid Manag. Mar-Apr 2005;1(1):17-23. doi: 10.5055/jom.2005.0007.


This study compares two methods of detoxification available to heroin users in Western Australia: clonidine-assisted detoxification (CD) or clonidine-naloxone precipitated withdrawal under sedation (rapid opioid detoxification [ROD]). Oral naltrexone was made available to all participants following detoxification. Eighty heroin-dependent persons were randomly assigned to either ROD or CD. Most undertaking ROD commenced and completed this treatment. Less than one-third undertaking CD completed this treatment. There was no significant difference in those treated by CD or ROD in subjective assessment of degree or duration of pain, severity of withdrawal and craving, nor was there an increase in the withdrawal sequelae after treatment. Induction of oral naltrexone following ROD was greater, but oral naltrexone compliance levels and abstinence from heroin four weeks following detoxification were similar between ROD and CD groups. The level of patient satisfaction between the two treatments was also similar. The authors discuss why ROD is considered more effective than CD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Clonidine / administration & dosage
  • Clonidine / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Heroin Dependence / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Naltrexone / administration & dosage
  • Naltrexone / therapeutic use*
  • Narcotic Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naltrexone
  • Clonidine