NICE guidance on detoxification to help GPs

NICE has issued guidelines on detoxification to help GPs offer the most effective treatment for patients who are opioid dependent.

The guidelines recommend that methadone or buprenorphine be offered as first-line treatment. While lofexidine may be considered for people who have made an informed decision to detoxify within a short time period.

Detoxification should normally last up to four weeks in an inpatients setting and up to 12 weeks in the community.

Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the NICE detoxification guidelines and a GP in South London, said that the guidelines would be of real help to the many GPs who regularly treat substance misusers in their surgeries.

‘Currently, there is variation in the type of treatment that is offered for opiate users. Some will receive high-dose diazepam, while others may be prescribed painkillers or be told to go ‘cold turkey’.

‘These guidelines will offer the evidence for GPs to provide better treatment.’

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