Background: Opioids are psychoactive analgesic drugs prescribed for pain relief and palliative care. Due to their addictive potential, effort and vigilance in controlling prescriptions is needed to avoid misuse and dependence. Despite the effort, the prevalence of opioid use disorder continues to rise. Opioid substitution therapies are commonly used to treat opioid dependence; however, there is minimal consensus as to which therapy is most effective. Available treatments include methadone, heroin, buprenorphine, as well as naltrexone. This systematic review aims to assess and compare the effect of all available opioid substitution therapies on the treatment of opioid dependence.
Methods/design: The authors will search Medline, EMBASE, PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, Cochrane Clinical Trials Registry, World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform Search Portal, and the National Institutes for Health Clinical Trials Registry. The title, abstract, and full-text screening will be completed in duplicate. When appropriate, multiple treatment comparison Bayesian meta-analytic methods will be performed to deduce summary statistics estimating the effectiveness of all opioid substitution therapies in terms of retention and response to treatment (as measured through continued opioid abuse).
Discussion: Using evidence gained from this systematic review, we anticipate disseminating an objective review of the current available literature on the effectiveness of all opioid substitution therapies for the treatment of opioid use disorder. The results of this systematic review are imperative to the further enhancement of clinical practice in addiction medicine.
Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42013006507.