A review of opioid dependence treatment: pharmacological and psychosocial interventions to treat opioid addiction

Clin Psychol Rev. 2010 Mar;30(2):155-66. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2009.10.006. Epub 2009 Oct 30.


Opioid dependence is a problem of national concern, especially with dramatically increased rates of abuse and dependence of prescription opioids. The current article provides an up-to-date review of the literature on opioid dependence treatment, with a focus on conclusions drawn by experts in the field (e.g., Cochrane reviews and meta-analyses) and methodologically rigorous studies (e.g., randomized controlled trials). We describe the major classes of drug treatments available, including opioid agonist (e.g., methadone, buprenorphine, LAAM), antagonist (e.g., naltrexone) and non-opioid pharmacotherapies (e.g., alpha2 adrenergic agonists). These treatments are discussed in the context of detoxification and long term treatment options such as abstinence-based and maintenance strategies. We review the state of the literature as to prevention of opioid overdose and discuss the widespread problem of comorbidity among opioid-dependent populations. We also focus prominently on evidence for inclusion of psychosocial approaches in treatment regimens, either as stand-alone or in conjunction with psychopharmacological options.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biofeedback, Psychology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Humans
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Narcotics / therapeutic use*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • Self-Help Groups


  • Adrenergic Agents
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Narcotics