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Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been used to treat drug addiction for more than 160 years and valuable experiences have been accumulated with regard to patients' detoxification and rehabilitation. The aims of this project were (1) to establish a computerized, bilingual (Chinese–English) database on TCM for drug addiction; (2) to analyse the literature published in this field; and (3) to identify those Chinese herbs commonly used for drug addiction treatment.(1) Paper collection: related papers were collected through electronic databases and hand-searched materials; (2) data computerization: the Microsoft Access program and Delphi language were used as the major data management systems; (3) paper analysis: annual publications from 1989 to 2003 were classified and calculated; and (4) herbal analysis: the frequency of herbs used and herbal function categories were analysed.(1) A special bilingual database that contained 340 works of professional literature, including 85 patent files on TCM for drug addiction, was established, in which more than 90% of the publications originated from mainland China; (2) the literature classification showed a significant increase in the number of publications on clinical and laboratory researches in this field over the past decade; (3) five functional categorizations of Chinese herbs and the 10 most frequently used Chinese herbs as well as three toxic herbs were identified from more than 200 herbs reported in 150 original research articles and 85 patent files.For the first time, the published data on TCM in the treatment of drug addiction were analysed systematically by using a new database. The results are invaluable for further laboratory and clinical studies to obtain more direct evidence.