Time limiting opioid substitution therapy

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Great Britain. Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
Date of publication
6 November 2014
Substance Misuse
Social welfare
Material type

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This report explores the question of whether or not people in treatment for addiction are maintained on opioid substitution therapy (OST) for longer than is necessary or desirable. The overall conclusion of this report is that the evidence does not support the case for imposing a blanket time limit on OST treatment for heroin users, and this approach is not advised by the ACMD. As evidence strongly suggests that time limiting OST would result in the majority relapsing into heroin use and may have significant unintended consequences including increasing: drug-driven crime (and national crime statistics); heroin overdose death rates; and, the spread of blood-borne viruses including hepatitis and HIV. Those implementing this approach could also face medico-legal challenges.

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