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Drug use, health and social outcomes of hard-to-treat heroin addicts receiving Supervised Injectable Opiate Treatment: secondary outcomes from the Randomised Injectable Opioid Treatment Trial (RIOTT)

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Nicola Metrebian, Teodora Groshkova, Jennifer Hellier, Vikki Charles, Anthea Martin, Luciana Forzisi, Nicholas Lintzeris, Deborah Zador, Hugh Williams, Tom Carnwath, Soraya Mayet, John Strang

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2014

King's Authors


Aims: The Randomized Injectable Opioid Treatment Trial (RIOTT) compared supervised injectable heroin (SIH) and supervised injectable methadone (SIM) with optimized oral methadone (OOM) (ISRCTN0133807). Heroin addicts (previously unresponsive to treatment) made significant reductions in street heroin use at 6 months when treated with SIH. We now examine secondary outcomes. Design: Multi-site randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing SIH versus OOM and SIM versus OOM. Setting: Three supervised injectable opiate clinics in England. Participants: Chronic refractory heroin addicts continuing to inject street heroin virtually daily despite oral substitution treatment (n = 127), randomized to either SIH(n = 43), SIM(n = 42) or OOM(n = 42). All received high levels of medical and psychosocial support. Measurements: Secondary outcomes: wider drug use, crime, health and social functioning at 6 months. Findings: At 6 months, no significant differences were found between treatment groups in wider drug use (crack/cocaine, benzodiazepines, alcohol), physical and mental health (SF-36) or social functioning. Within each treatment group, significant reductions were observed in crime [SIH = odds ratio (OR) 0.05; P < 0.001; SIM = OR 0.11; P = 0.002; OOM = OR 0.11; P = 0.003] and money spent per week on illicit drugs (SIH = mean change £–289.43; P < 0.001; SIM = mean change £–183.41; P < 0.001; OOM = mean change £–162.80; P < 0.001), with SIH significantly more likely to have reduced money spent on illicit drugs versus OOM (mean difference £–92.04; P < 0.001). Significant improvements were seen in physical health for SIH and SIM (SIH = mean change 3.97; P = 0.008; SIM = mean change 4.73; P = 0.002) and mental health for OOM (mean change 6.04; P = 0.013). Conclusions: Supervised injectable heroin treatment and supervised injectable methadone treatment showed no clearly identified benefit over optimized oral methadone in terms of wider drug use, crime, physical and mental health within a 6-month period, despite reducing street heroin use to a greater extent. However, all interventions were associated with improvements in these outcomes.

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