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Factors predicting completion in a cohort of opiate users entering a detoxification programme



To determine the outcome and factors influencing outcome among a cohort of drug users commencing detoxification from opiate use.


National cohort study of randomly selected opiate users commencing methadone detoxification treatment in 1999, 2001 and 2003 (n = 327).


One quarter 62 (25.6%) of opiate users had a successful detoxification within the 3-month study criteria. Receiving some inpatient treatment as part of detoxification programme resulted in completion by 56.3% drug users compared to outpatient only treatment (21%). The factors independently influencing detoxification are as follows: having some inpatient treatment AOR 5.9 (2.63–13.64) and never having injected AOR 2.25 (1.20–4.25). An additional 31 (9%) opiate users had a detoxification between 3 months and 1 year and 27 (8%) moved into methadone maintenance.


This study finds that having some inpatient treatment increases the likelihood of a detoxification within 3 months. Offering a detoxification early in a drug using career pre-injecting drug use should be considered for suitable and motivated patients.

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The authors would like to express sincere thanks to all the staff at national drug treatment services for their assistance. We would also like to thank Ms. Fionnuala Rafferty at the Central Treatment List.

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Correspondence to Louise Mullen.

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Mullen, L., Keenan, E., Barry, J. et al. Factors predicting completion in a cohort of opiate users entering a detoxification programme. Ir J Med Sci 179, 569–573 (2010).

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  • Addiction treatment
  • Detoxification
  • Opiate misuse
  • Methadone
  • Inpatient