Buprenorphine for acute heroin detoxification: Diffusion of research into practice

Anne E. Kovas, Bentson H. McFarland, Dennis J. McCarty, Joshua F. Boverman, James A. Thayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Buprenorphine has been approved for heroin detoxification, but little is known about its impact on everyday practice. Concerns about buprenorphine include expense, limited knowledge about its use, patient limits, and social and clinical attitudes regarding opioid treatment for heroin dependence. On the other hand, randomized clinical trials suggest that buprenorphine is superior to clonidine with regard to withdrawal symptom relief. In June 2004, a community-based residential medical detoxification center switched from clonidine to buprenorphine treatment for all new and returning heroin clients. This study is a retrospective chart review of subject outcomes with clonidine (n = 100) versus buprenorphine (n = 100). Bivariate analysis suggested few cohort differences in pretreatment demographics and client characteristics. In contrast, buprenorphine was significantly associated with increased length of stay and treatment completion. The positive associations between buprenorphine and both treatment completion and length of stay persisted and were slightly enhanced after regression analysis adjusted for potential confounders. Additionally, clinical staff reported better subject engagement in treatment and psychosocial group sessions. This single-site study is an example of successful integration of an evidence-based treatment into community-based practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-206
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Community-based treatment
  • Heroin detoxification
  • Length of stay
  • Treatment completion
  • Treatment diffusion
  • Treatment engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Buprenorphine for acute heroin detoxification: Diffusion of research into practice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this