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.